Rolf Lassgard, Bahar Pars, Zozan Akgun
Hannes Holm, Fredrik Bakman (Novel)
Music Box Films (US)
Based upon a bestselling novel by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove is Sweden's entry into the 2017 Academy Awards Foreign Language category. Written and directed by Hannes Holm, the film has been picked up by indie distributor Music Box Films for a nationwide arthouse run and opens in Indy exclusively at Landmark's Keystone Arts on 10/21.
A Man Called Ove is, in some ways, your standard issue curmudgeon turned good guy film, the story of Ove (Rolf Lassgård), whose intolerance for pretty much everything and everyone in the world is well established. Removed as his Condominium Association's president a few years past, Ove continues to wield his perceived influence over the association by cracking down on anything resembling a violation. When Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her family arrive as neighbors, immigrants from Iran and seemingly born with an entirely different sense of community, it throws Ove's automatic defensiveness and quiet despondency into disarray as a connection is born and Ove becomes the man no one ever really expected him to be.
Played with believable crank and just the right touch of humanity by Rolf Lassgård, Ove's transformation isn't exactly subtle but it is beautifully brought to life in the kind of shades that life provides us after years of loss, hurt, disappointment, grief and quiet anger. The reasons for these feelings unfold throughout the film, feelings that are balanced by Ove's struggle between a suicidal depression and a growing connection to the pregnant Parvaneh and her family.
There are likely some who will be bothered by the great intentionality that Holm brings to A Man Called Ove, an intentionality that feels a tad manipulative yet somehow, someway simultaneously genuine. Pars is a wonderful contrast to the gruff exterior that Lassgård brings to Ove, projecting a warmth and openness that seems to trigger in Ove emotional memories of a life once more fully lived.
A Man Called Ove is the kind of film you start off resisting yet ultimately surrender to its charms, Goran Hallberg's relaxing as observer to Ove's transformation and Gaute Storaas's delightful original score providing both the zest and the emotional depth to companion the film through its laughter and its tears.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic