A Man Called Ove (PG-13)

Believe it or not, despite what we have all been taught, “coming of age” is not an experience which is exclusive to teenagers. We are constantly changing and growing and coming into whatever age we are approaching; and if we are fortunate, we reach “old age.”  The changes do not seem as dramatic as those occurring during those teenage years, but change is occurring, nonetheless.  As daunting and tumultuous as the move from adolescence to adulthood may be, of all the stages of life, the approach into old age may arguably be the “scariest.”  It is a time when we have lost many friends and family, including spouses and even children, to death and/or disease.  We may have to move out of our lifetime home.  Our bodies are changing – and not budding in the way of a teenager’s – we are deteriorating.  Our position in our family and in the world may change.  We may be set in our ways, and the world around us probably seems to be quickly and constantly changing, or so one could imagine.

Based on Fredrik Backman’s international best-selling novel, A Man Called Ove is more than simply the tale of another grumpy, bitter old man finding a reason to smile again.  Ove is a senior citizen who is having a helluva hard time letting go of the past and moving forward.  He visits his wife’s grave regularly with the promise of joining her soon.  With the help of some new, youthful, energetic neighbors, Ove begrudgingly gets help moving forward from his past and into his future.

Ove tries to kill himself no fewer than 4 times and during some of these suicide attempts he reminisces about the major events of his life. Through these flashbacks we see that Ove has seen his share of heartache and we learn how he arrived at his current state of desperation.  I enjoy this format of storytelling very much when it is done well; and here, it truly is done well.

I am not very familiar with Swedish actors (to say the least), but Rolf Lassgård is superb as Ove.  He plays the old man so well you would never guess he is actually much younger than the character.  Every member of the supporting cast does a solid job.

Problems with the movie occur with the writing and the editing. The end of the movie gets a bit boilerplate in that you can sort of predict what will happen, although it may not happen the way you think.  It ran a bit long and could have benefitted from a small cut of about 10 minutes near the end.  And some of the subtitles (Swedish/Persian with English subtitles) could have been better paced for more impact.  For example, there were times when a joke was good, but the subtitles had the set up and the punch line together in a frame when they could have and should have been separate.  I won’t beat Hannes Holm (the writer) up too badly about it though.  This is a man who had me laughing out loud during suicide scenes!  That is not an easy feat to pull off.  (Although, I must say, most audience members didn’t seem to find the humor in it.  There was only one other guy laughing out loud with me.  Considering the audience (No disrespect intended, but I was at the Paris Theater with the blue-haired crowd) I would not take their inability to find the humor or not finding it as humorous as I as a reflection on the writer’s writing or the actor’s acting.

A Man Called Ove earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a great movie that shouldn’t be missed.   Go out and support it if you like, or catch it streaming when you can.  It will make you reflect on your own life today and your legacy when you are gone, in a positive way. After seeing this movie I look forward to reading Fredrik Backman’s book, more work from Hannes Holm and more acting from Rolf Lassgård.

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1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

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