The poster for A Man Called Otto invitations us to “fall in love with the grumpiest man in America.” But actually, was there any doubt, contemplating that he’s performed by Tom Hanks? The inevitable transformation of the title character from ill-tempered sourpuss to lovable softy wouldn’t generate a lot suspense anyway, because the movie is a remake of the hit 2015 Swedish movie A Man Called Ove, tailored from the best-selling novel by Fredrik Backman. Add to that the truth that you’ve got the modern-day heir of Jimmy Stewart’s mantle enjoying the lead, and you’ll just about predict the movie’s each beat.
But that doesn’t it make any much less fulfilling or shifting, because of its reliably efficient redemption arc, narrative construction and Hanks’ enduring attraction. Unlike the Swedish movie’s lead actor, Rolf Lassgard, who was genuinely intimidating in his curmudgeonliness, Hanks isn’t actually convincing as a perpetually aggrieved, hostile widower who takes his grief over his spouse’s demise out on the world. But you’ll be able to sense how a lot enjoyment he’s getting out of enjoying in opposition to his common picture, and also you fortunately go alongside for the journey.
A Man Called Otto
The Bottom Line
Plucks your heartstrings successfully.
Set in an unnamed Rust Belt city that has clearly seen higher days (the film was filmed in Pittsburgh), this American model directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) carefully follows its Swedish predecessor in most regards. Otto, who has lately been pushed out of his engineering managerial job, primarily spends his time scowling and grunting at anybody who has the temerity to cross his path and implementing the principles of his gated neighborhood, which is managed by the form of real-estate firm whose smarmy consultant (Mike Birbiglia, in a job making little use of his comedian abilities) would have made an acceptable villain in a Frank Capra film.
Yes, Otto is cranky, alright. He yells at a younger girl for letting her canine urinate on his garden, a supply truck driver for unauthorized parking, a neighbor for exercising too vigorously in a skintight outfit, and a stray cat for exhibiting up on his property. He’s even keen to spend treasured time arguing over being charged 33 cents an excessive amount of in a big-box ironmongery store. He greater than lives as much as a bystander’s description of him as a “grumpy old bastard.” But we quickly perceive the reason for his despair, which prompts him to make a number of unsuccessful suicide makes an attempt. He’s childless and alone, having lately misplaced his beloved spouse Sonya to most cancers.
His humanity solely emerges throughout his common visits to her grave, the place he makes it clear that he intends to hitch her quickly. It’s additionally revealed in a collection of flashbacks to his youthful days, wherein the younger Otto (Truman Hanks, Tom’s son, bearing an uncanny resemblance to his previous man) has a meet-cute with Sonya (Rachel Keller, suitably endearing) when he boards a prepare going within the flawed course so as to return a guide she’s dropped. We see the couple shifting into the house the place the middle-aged Otto nonetheless lives and making buddies with their neighbors, after which Sonya getting pregnant and tragically shedding the newborn in a bus accident that ends in her being confined to a wheelchair.
As the movie progresses, you end up counting the minutes till Otto will regain his soul. It begins to occur with the arrival of a younger household within the neighborhood, consisting of the feisty, very pregnant Marisol (Mariana Trevino, in a breakthrough efficiency), her klutzy husband (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, The Magnificent Seven), and their two younger daughters. At first, Otto resists Marisol’s good-natured efforts to be pleasant, however he finally finds himself getting concerned together with his new neighbors regardless of himself. You can really feel his resistance melting when he takes the primary bites of a scrumptious do-it-yourself meal she’s gifted him, though in his thank-you notice he can solely begrudgingly describe the meals as “interesting.” But it isn’t lengthy earlier than he’s babysitting the lovable tykes and educating Marisol learn how to drive.
The storyline’s much less convincing parts embrace Otto changing into a social media sensation after he’s filmed rescuing an aged man who’s fallen onto prepare tracks. That permits him to take advantage of his newfound fame when the actual property firm makes an attempt to evict his longtime neighbors after they expertise main well being points. It’s the form of melodramatic plot contrivance that feels wholly pointless, as if screenwriter David Magee didn’t belief that the story of a grief-stricken man regaining his will to stay would carry sufficient emotional weight.
But it’s onerous to thoughts an excessive amount of, because of Hanks’ completely modulated, understated efficiency — he’s actually shifting while you really feel Otto’s frost slowly beginning to thaw — and the welcome comedian moments that alleviate the movie’s extra heavy-handed facets. There’s a very great second when Otto winds up within the hospital after collapsing on the street and Marisol is gravely knowledgeable that his coronary heart is “too big.” Instead of registering alarm, she collapses into hysterical laughter, with Otto having the grace to totally get the joke.
Although A Man Called Otto by no means totally rises above its apparent plot machinations, director Forster fortunately applies a reasonably restrained, refined method. The result’s a movie to which you finally end up succumbing although you by no means cease being conscious that your heartstrings are being shamelessly pulled.
Production corporations: Playtone, SF Studios, 2DUX², Columbia Pictures, Stage 6 Films, Artistic Films
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mariana Trevino, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Truman Hanks, Mike Birbiglia
Director: Marc Foster
Screenwriter: David Magee
Producers: Fredrik Wikstrom Nicastro, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman
Executive producers: Marc Forster, Renee Wolfe, Louise Rosner, David Magee, Michael Porseryd, Tim King, Sudie Smyth, Steven Shareshian, Celia Costas, Neda Backman, Tor Jonasson
Director of pictures: Matthias Keonigswieser
Production designer: Barbara Ling
Editor: Matt Chesse
Composer: Thomas Newman
Costume designer: Frank Fleming
Casting: Francine Maisler, Molly Rose
2 hours 6 minutes