Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Movie with Abe: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove
Directed by Hannes Holm
Released September 30, 2016

It is a common thing that, later in life, many people become irritable. Whether they were pleasant or unfriendly before that is often irrelevant, since circumstances and transformative events can change how they view the world. Loss is a major reason for people to turn against those around them and disregard them entirely, but often there’s little explanation for why someone seems to hate everyone and everything. Such stories can be full of entertainment, with more depth revealed as time goes on and the history behind a person at the end of his or her life unfolds.

Ove (Rolf Lassgård) shows just what kind of man he is in the film’s opening scene, angrily chewing out a poor supermarket clerk when he insists upon using a coupon that clearly articulates a discount on the purchase of two items to buy just one. Ove is prone to yelling at anyone who dares to drive in his neighborhood since vehicles are not allowed, and he treats all his neighbors as if they are bothering him when they so much as say hello. Eager to be reunited with the one person he does seem to like – his late wife – Ove plans to kill himself, but isn’t able to go through with the act because his neighbors just can’t seem to leave him in peace.

Any story about someone who starts out with a negative outlook on things is bound to head towards a more optimistic finish, and the whole of this film is very entertaining. As Ove tries to push people away, literally and figuratively, they just keep coming back and doing their best to enter his life, unconcerned with his lack of desire to give in or open up to their sunny ways. It turns out that there’s much more to Ove than meets the eye, and getting to know him both in his crotchety old age and in his younger, happier days is a treat.

This film earned two Oscar bids, one for Best Foreign Film, representing Sweden, and the other for Best Makeup. The latter is a true feat, since star Lassgård is completely unrecognizable as Ove, with his forehead exaggerated and his face made up to look incredibly different. Only upon seeing a regular photo of him did I realize that he played a tremendous role in the fantastic Danish film “After the Wedding,” and I awarded him the very first AFT Award for Best Supporting Actor. He’s just as great, if far less serious here, leading an endearing and funny film that deserves its nomination – and maybe even a win – for representing the best, if not the most epic, of international cinema.


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