A Man Called Ove (M)
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Having a sense of the ridiculous is vital if you are watching a movie where the title character repeatedly tries to exit this world. The first time you catch your breath and are shocked, then relieved, when his suicide attempt fails.
But as you watch his repeated failed efforts, it’s clear that the director is determined to make you chuckle and show you that our hero Ove (Rolf Lassgård ) is not going to be allowed to join his dead wife just yet. He has some living to do.
A Man Called Ove is a fine film that will send you out into the world with a smile on your face and a sense that you have really enjoyed a journey with a very angry and depressed man whose neighbours are determined to break through his curmudgeonly exterior.
When we first meet him, Ove is struggling with the grief of losing his wife Sonja (Ida Engvoll) to cancer. She had been the centre of this awkward man’s universe. Without her, he has no rudder, so all he wants is to visit her grave and tell her that he will be joining her soon.
To express his anger at the world which took his beloved Sonja, he is the original nasty neighbour, patrolling his housing complex, snarling at all and sundry and threatening anyone who steps out of line.
Ove really is one of the most unpleasant people you could meet. But a new young family moves in next door, and sunny-natured Iranian immigrant Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) refuses to let Ove’s off-putting manner upset her. She keeps invading his life with acts of kindness until he gradually cracks and starts tentatively to live again.
In the early stages of the film we see him curse dogs, threaten to turn them into carpet slippers and hiss at a very fetching big fluffy Ragdoll cat. As time moves on Parvaneh insists he adopt the cat, and this beautiful animal purrs its way into Ove’s heart.
By the latter stages of the film, Ove also allows his neighbours to penetrate his solitude. He becomes the adopted grandfather of the little ones next door, and rekindles a friendship that had gone sour over a minor dispute. Ove opens his home to a young gay man who had been thrown out by his father, and then fights battles against bureaucracy for neighbour Rune, to stop him being forced into a nursing home against the wishes of Rune’s wife.
There’s a touching moment that shows us that Ove is changing and starting to engage with life and people again. The camera widens from a headshot of Ove at his wife’s grave, revealing that he has taken his new feline friend to his regular chats with Sonja.
A Man Called Ove is a must for your feel-good film list.
Highlight: fine performances from Rolf Lassgård and his cat
Red flag: some coarse language