A Man Called Ove (En man som heter Ove) is a heartwarming story from Sweden. Adapted from the best selling novel by Fredrik Backman by director Hannes Holm, the tale is a worthy rendering of the novel. Rolf Lassgård is wonderful as Ove.
Ove is an old poot. He was never any good at expressing his emotions. Now he’s down to just one: rage. He is pissed off because his mother died when he was only 7, because his father died tragically. Most recently, he’s pissed over the death of the woman who – inexplicably, amazingly – loved him. He scatters his anger on everyone with equal fervor: dogs, cats, neighbors, officials.
Ove is good at doing things, building things. He’s bad at conversation. He’s bad at emotion. Any changes to his routine upset him. Any breach of the rules, of honesty, distress him.
His wife Sonja (Ida Engvoll) was a beautiful light in everyone’s life. Now that she’s gone, Ove decides to kill himself and join her in the hereafter. He visits her grave daily and promises to be with her soon.
He’s really crap at killing himself. People keep interrupting him with demands for help.
His new neighbors, a pregnant mother of two Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her husband Patrick (Tobias Almborg) annoy him in every way. They drive on the walking paths. Patrick can’t back their trailer properly to unload their furniture and knocks over Ove’s mailbox. Their children want attention from him. Parvaneh convinces him to do many things he doesn’t want to do: take her to the hospital, watch her children, teach her to drive, eat rice with saffron, be kind to gay men, but mostly to care about other human beings.
One of the unique twists in this tale about an old grouch with a heart of gold is how the flashbacks are incorporated. Each time Ove tries to kill himself he flashes back to some past event in his life. It reveals him to the audience slowly as we learn of his mother’s death, his father’s death, his blind loyalty to Saab automobiles, meeting Sonja, losing his home, meeting his one friend Rune (Börje Lundberg), the loss of Sonja’s baby, and finally to the loss of Sonja. It’s an effective way to tell a story.
A Man Called Ove belongs to a group of films about hopelessly ineffectual men who are saved by a woman (or women, in this film). Ove might be mildly autistic. He might have OCD. He’s a social misfit, even though he can do just about anything with his hands. Through the grace of a woman’s touch, he becomes a functioning, valuable, cherished person. Really, why can’t we have the matriarchy back?
A Man Called Ove is available now on Amazon Video. The film is mostly in Swedish with subtitles. It was nominated as Best Foreign Language Film of the Year in the 2017 Academy Awards. It didn’t win, but it certainly deserved the nomination.
Watch the trailer for A Man Called Ove