Directed by Hannes Holm
It doesn’t surprise me that “A Man Called Ove”, a Swedish comedy-drama written and directed by Hannes Holm and based on the novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman, has successfully targeted the audiences. The director has found this upbeat facility in conquering them with a story simultaneously touching, funny, and heartwarming.
It’s almost impossible not to be intrigued by Ove – a bossy, grumpy, obsessively righteous, and deliberately offensive widower who fights anyone disobeying the rules created for the neighborhood he lives in. The more we know about his past, the more we get fond of him, excusing his rude conducts and understanding his reluctance to help others.
When we take a quick glance at the 56-year-old Ove, immaculately played by Rolf Lassgard (“Under the Sun”, “After the Wedding”), he reminds us Michael Caine. With him, honesty, responsibility, and duty come always first, no matter what. We follow him on his morning rounds, learning he doesn’t tolerate pets, children’s toys left in the playground, and especially cars circulating on the pathway.
After being fired from the railroad company where he worked for 43 years, Ove seems madder and grumpier than ever. He can’t stand anybody and nobody can stand him.
With no more plans for life and willing to join his beloved wife in heaven, Ove, dressed up in a blue suit, decides to hang himself in his living room. However, in every attempt, he ends up reverting the decision. Firstly, the one to blame is Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), an Iranian mother who moved into the house across the street with her husband Patrick (Tobias Almborg) and their two daughters. Then it was a journalist who wanted to write about him, and after that, his wife’s former student.
With the time, Ove’s heart gradually softens in every sense. He starts considering Pervaneh and her daughters as his own family and even adopts a stray cat that was dying of cold outside.
It’s gratifying to see how his lonely eyes sparkle when Parvaneh is around, how he obeys her when she calls him to reason, or how he’s disarmed with a smile of his adoptive granddaughters.
Cleverly mixing drama and comedy, and heavily relying on attractive visuals and competent performances, the film is a balm in terms of tolerance, a lacking virtue nowadays.
It’s undeniable that everything in the feel-good “A Man Called Ove” was neatly arranged to please. However, its charm and message make us forget the originality it wasn’t capable of showing.