DVD Review - A Man Called Ove

This film was nominated for two Oscars, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup / Hairstyling. It was Sweden's official submission to the 89th Academy Awards. Writer-director Hannes Holm adapted it from the 2012 Swedish novel, En man som heter Ove, by Fredrik Backman, which was his first bestseller.

Rolf Lassgård stars as Ove Lindahl, a 59-year-old widower who oversees his small, housing development. He runs it with an iron fist. He doesn't really have any power. He's just a cranky and grumpy, old man. He barks at people who don't keep things tidy and in extreme order. Ironically, he doesn't like dogs or cats. He's even more cranky and grumpy after he's fired from his job of 40 years. With no wife, no job and neighbors who annoy him, he feels he has nothing left to live for.

Filip Berg co-stars as Ove Lindahl, at age 18 or 19, a young man raised by his father after his mother passes at an even earlier age. His dad gave to him his love of Saab automobiles and an affinity for trains. He eventually becomes an engineer. He's a very kind and sweet boy, quite tall and handsome as well. He's a bit nervous around girls, but he does fall in love with a girl on a train and thus begins a beautiful romance. He meets Sonja, played by Ida Engvoll. Sonja is a school teacher who helps Ove when he gets lost. The film flashes back-and-forth between old and young Ove.

Bahar Pars also co-stars as Parvenah, a mother who lives in the same housing development as the elder Ove. She's one of Ove's newest neighbors. She befriends Ove in spite of himself. He probably resents her as others because she has children and he doesn't. She is able to convince him to give her driving lessons. Watching her relationship with Ove is key to seeing a man who starts out so distant and cold slowly get his warmth and empathy back. Parvenah is Iranian, but nothing overtly political is made of that fact. The film is casual about the fact that a Westerner and a Middle Eastern person meet and get along.

Along the way, Ove has to navigate relationships with others, both new and old. One of special interest is Mirsad, played by Poyan Karimi. Mirsad is the gay boyfriend of one of Sonja's pupils. The power of Holm's film is the random connections between people that can be so meaningful and heartening. There is a dark humor here that could seem like it's making light of suicide, but the meaningfulness of everything else allows this film to work, and yes, it is funny.

Rated PG-13 for thematic content, some disturbing images and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 55 mins.


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