Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
"A Man Called Ove" (Music Box Films)
In 2014 the world discovered the gentle tale of a true curmudgeon in Fredrik Backman's best selling novel A MAN CALLED OVE. This affecting story has been on best seller lists for years now and its popularity remains strong. Therefore the film version of the novel is much appreciated. Directed by Hannes Holm, this Swedish production features a largely unknown cast of supremely talented actors, headed up by Rolf Lassgard as the cantankerous Ove. He and the film grow on you as Ove's story unfolds and have you completely enthralled by the movie's end.
The film starts off with the audience firmly in Ove's world. He lives in Sweden in a small gated community where he has placed himself in the role of keeper of the rules Each day he makes his appointed rounds and checks the gates, the garages and the garbage cans. He does this in solitary fashion as his beloved wife Sonya (Ida Ingvoll) has died and he is on the outs with his best friend.
Shortly into the film it becomes apparent Ove is not coping well with his wife's death. In fact he is planning to commit suicide so he can join her in death. He has various methods with which he plans to accomplish this feat, but life keeps interrupting his death wish. A new family moves in across the street and another neighbor needs help with some repairs. Ove blusters and fusses over all this, but he is slowly being brought back among the living.
There is no way to describe Ove's journey other than to say it is a heartbreaking one. Ove's heart is breaking from the loss of his wife, and the audience's hearts are breaking because of Ove's pain. Not being familiar with the actors from previous films, adds an identification in these characters they would not otherwise possess. Lassgard is Ove; Ingvoll is Sonya.
The love story between Ove and Sonya is told in flashbacks and this method of telling their story works. Each backward glance builds on the other and on and on until the full picture is reached. And from the beginning of the film till the end the audience's affection for this couple grows and grows. It is a simple story but one that hits the emotions like a powerhouse punch.
We Americans generally have an aversion to subtitles but with this movie the Swedish language plays gently on our ears and the English words bond with it in a symbiotic relationship. The mind adapts quickly to the reading requirement and it is not a stumbling block in the least. I actually forgot I was reading the words.
A few years ago there was a wonderful French film titled "The Intouchables." It was a touching and endearing movie that made me wonder what I was missing in not seeing all the numerous films being made outside the United States. "A Man Called Ove" and "The Intouchables" are kindred spirits and I urge you to do whatever it takes to avail yourself of the entertainment "Ove" brings to the screen.
The film is rated PG-13 for mild profanity and suicide scenes.
"A Man Called Ove" is the official Swedish submission for the category of Best Foreign Film for the 89th Academy Awards in 2017. It looks like a winner to me.
I scored "A Man Called Ove" an ovely 8 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper