Director: Marc Forster
Writer: David Magee
Starring: Tom Hanks, Marianna Treviño, Rachel Keller, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
A Man Called Otto, the latest film from director Marc Forster (Christopher Robin, Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction), and writer David Magee (Finding Neverland, Mary Poppins Returns). The film is based on the 2012 novel A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which was previously adapted into a film of the same name in 2015. The film is a dark comedy-drama about depression and family.
Tom Hanks stars as Otto, who spends most of his time making sure the local neighbourhood sticks to the strict rules. Since the death of his wife, Otto has been suffering from depression and has taken the decision to kill himself to join her. Every time he tries to end his life, something stops him. When a young couple move into the neighbourhood, he finds something new to live for.
Tom Hanks is always lovable, even when he’s playing a grouchy man trying to end his life. He’s really good in the film, as you’d expect. Joining him is Marianna Treviño, who plays Marisol one of the new neighbours. Her personality is the polar opposite of Otto’s and she tries to bring him out of his shell and show him that he still has things to live for. Tom Hank’s son Truman Hanks also stars as a young Otto, during a series of flashbacks that add to the emotional weight of the film.
Tonally the film is all over the place. At points it’s a goofy comedy, with jokes that aren’t always funny, and quirky characters to fill out the neighbourhood. At other points it’s a emotional and heart-breaking drama about loss and depression. It’s a little hard to go from watching Otto trying to end his life to silly neighbourhood antics. The film works a lot better as a drama than a comedy and would have been a lot better if it was more focused on that. It’s like two completely different and contrasting films are trying to come out on top. There’s a balancing act that the film doesn’t always get right.
There’s surprisingly a lot of heart to be found in A Man Called Otto. It does have some funny moments, but it’s the dark moments where the film really hits. It’s heartfelt, sentimental and genuinely emotional.
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