Directed by Hannes Holm
Starring Rolf Lassgard, Bahar Pars, Filip Berg and Ida Engvoll
Film Review by Daniel Reason
Hannes Holm’s A Man Called Ove is a Swedish film that is based on Fredrik Backman’s 2012 novel of the same name. It tells the familiar story of an Ebenezer Scrooge-like character, called Ove (played by Rolf Lassgard), who is angry because of what is happening in his life and what has happened in his past. He disapproves of pretty much everything around him – his neighbours, his job, a stray cat – there isn’t much in life that he enjoys. And when a new group of neighbours arrive, we truly learn about his behaviour and attitude.
In a film such as this it is very important to have a central character that we can understand and relate to, this consequently means that the overall quality of the film relies heavily on Lassgard. It is, therefore, very pleasing that this is the movie's biggest strength, as Ove is an interesting character, to say the least, and is very enjoyable to watch. It would be easy for Lassgard’s angry performance to irk, which would result in a troublesome foundation. However, with the use of flashbacks that are scattered throughout the film, we learn more about him and so we understand why he is the way he is - something of a tragic character. The way he interacts with the world provides us with some more details about things that have happened to him, and it leads to some strong comedic scenes and performances from other characters. Due to how emotional the story is, these comedic moments are key, as they provide some much-needed relief and make the film flow more efficiently.
It is through his relationship with the new neighbours, that have moved into the house across the road from his, that is the catalyst for change in his attitude – the characters of Parvaneh (played by Bahar Pars) and her two children. Through the flashbacks that are shown, we learn more about him and his wife, Sonja (played by Ida Engvoll) and what could have been. This allows certain scenes between Ove and Parvaneh, or Ove and the children, having much more meaning to them - even the simplest of reactions and things being said can “say” so much more, than if those past events didn’t exist. It is Bahar Pars’character who helps Ove along this journey the most, however, as she helps him adapt to the modern world that he’s continuing to struggle with. Unlike Ove, Parvaneh is full of optimism and is always there to help– her impact on him is very clear. What is appreciated about the way the film handles Ove’s arc is that he still retains the characteristics that make him who he is, and so he doesn’t become a completely different character by the end of the story – his goals remain the same.
In conclusion, A Man called Ove is a heart-warming film that demonstrates the impact that people can have on each other, even when their differences may seem entirely contrasting.