Monday, January 30, 2017

[Review] A Man Called Ove

I dare you not to be moved by A Man Called Ove, a sweet and poignant Swedish comedy-drama (with a touch of dark) that works as compassionate character study about a cantankerous old man whose life is changed by an Iranian immigrant.

Ove (Rolf Lassgard) is a lonely curmudgeon, spending his days visiting his wife's grave and scolding people on his block. After being ousted from his longtime job, he attempts to commit suicide multiple times, but is repeatedly interrupted by his boisterous new neighbor Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her two young kids. A bond incrementally develops, and well, you can see where this is going.

It's a familiar setup--the grump who has a change of heart due to an unlikely friendship--but it's still a delight to see Ove come around and regain his purpose. Based on Fredrik Backman's novel of the same name, the well-written script presents a series of extended flashbacks, detailing Ove's lifetime of significant encounters, love, tragedy, and his impact on others. Forrest Gump actually came to mind. There's even personal voiceover narration, spouting some catchy lines of ironic wisdom.

The film does move at a slower pace, and there are a couple of narrative lulls, but the emotional payoffs are winsome, and the sentiment is earned, especially as Ove's character bits are revealed, and as his past shines a light on his present, all while he begins to take on a fatherly role with Parvaneh, who's played with a bubbly vibrancy by actress Bahar Pars.

A Man Called Ove definitely has heart. A big one. A welcoming one.

( 8/10 )

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