Review of A Man Called Otto

Director: Marc Forster | Script: David Magee | Cast:Tom Hanks (Otto), Mariana Treviño (Marisol), Rachel Keller (Sonya), Truman Hanks (Jonge Otto), Cameron Britton (Jimmy), Juanita Jennings (Anita), Peter Lawson Jones (Reuben), Manuel García-Rulfo (Tommy ), Mack Bayda (Malcolm), ea | Time to play: 126 minutes | Year: 2022

In 2015 the Swedish film adaptation of the also Swedish bestseller Een Man Die Ove Heet was released. In the center was snotty old Ove, always grumpy, who was only too happy to point out his flaws to everyone. The man slowly thawed out with the arrival of new neighbors, a young family with two children and a third on the way. Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård played the title role with unprecedented enthusiasm.

Hollywood is quite late in introducing Fredrik Backman’s book to American movie audiences. Director Marc Forster saw Otto’s name as the English equivalent of Ove and Tom Hanks as the American Lassgård. It’s admirable how Hanks makes you forget after a few minutes that you’re seeing an actor with such a familiar face. The actor may look older and have a rather thin face, but his handsome looks make you forget you’re really looking at Tom Hanks.

Many elements have remained the same. At most, Forster has shifted the emphasis somewhat. When we meet him, Otto is first and foremost a nasty man who stands up for his principles and costs about thirty cents at the local hardware store. The man lost his wife Sonya six months ago. Despite being sacked as president of the residents’ association, Otto still sees it as a day job to make sure everyone in his housing block follows the rules. Also, there is no exaggerated joy involved. Otto is a man of rules and regularity.

Still, life no longer has meaning for Otto, but every attempt the sixty-something makes to get back together with his Sonya is nipped in the bud. He provides a spooky form of humor, because of course there’s little fun in a man whose weight and rope are too heavy for the roof. The young family of the Mexican Marisol may be just what Otto needs to regain control of life. Also, a cunning real estate developer threatens to buy the houses and destroy lives.

Which way it all goes is not surprising. Forster is clearly not concerned with the result, but with the path to it. This also involves the usual steps, but the high degree of predictability does little harm. The feel-good factor just stands and falls with engaging characters and events, and that’s exactly what the viewer asks for and Forster delivers. The stories tie together nicely and are perfectly rounded. Also, Otto earns bonus points for attacking an annoying clown.

The flashbacks in which we learn of Otto and Sonya’s meeting are a bit sentimental, but one must be made of stone not to shed a tear at this pity in Kate Bush’s song, This Woman’s Work. A nice touch is that Truman, Hanks’ rather inexperienced son, plays the younger version of his father. Forster knows exactly where he wants the viewer from and delivers a feel-good drama that even the most bitter will have to admit is just a good movie.

Varsha Rai

Hi, Varsha here. I am a very passionate writer with a knack for the art of words and I hope to share my stories and information in a way that is meaningful and inspiring. At, I write mostly on latest and upcoming movies, movie reviews and everything related to movies. Catch up with me on - [email protected]
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