The film tackles several contemporary issues including lonesome living, social media, transgender, unscrupulous property development, helpless aging, and other old-age issues, etc., with some degree of earnestness while delineating 60-year-old curmudgeon widower, Otto’s post-retirement(forced) life
A Man Called Otto
Film: A Man called Otto
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Cameron Britton, Kailey Hyman, Mike Birbiglia, Elle Chapman
Director: Marc Forster
Runtime: 126 min
A remake of the 2015 Oscar-nominated Swedish hit 'A Man Called Ove' by Hannes Holm, based on a book of the same name with an adapted screenplay by David Magee, this film basically gives free rein to co-producer and starring actor Tom Hanks to stamp his considerable acting authority all over it.
The film tackles several contemporary issues including lonesome living, social media, transgender, unscrupulous property development, helpless aging, and other old-age issues, etc., with some degree of earnestness while delineating 60-year-old curmudgeon widower, Otto’s post-retirement(forced) life. Despite being deposed as head of his gated community, grumpy Otto continues to watch over his neighborhood with an iron fist. He checks the gates, keeps unscrupulous property developers at bay, stays aloof from his neighbors and stray animals, and is also so despondent by the loss pf his love that he is on the verge of ending his life. As the movie progresses you learn where his pain comes from.
This is also a beautiful love story retold with flashbacks flitting from the present to the past with a smooth efficiency that is appreciable.
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Otto’s frequent suicide attempts get interrupted by new neighbors, South American couple Marisol (Mariana Treviño) and Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), and their kids. The butt-ins appear contrived but they keep the interest going by creating some heartfelt comedy among the general awkwardness.
There are interesting mini-backstories to Otto’s relationship with the neighborhood which includes a kindly transgender teenager Malcolm (Mack Bayda) thrown out of his house by his dad, the fitness-obsessed Jimmy (Cameron Britton), Otto’s old friend Rueben (Peter Lawson Jones), and his wife Anita (Juanita Jennings). There’s also a stray cat who inevitably forms an alliance with Otto.
The story does not always ring true. You might raise an eyebrow when you see his colleagues give him a send-off party or experience his neighbors allowing him to get away with his insulting behavior. Even Marisol’s never-say-die attempt to get through to Otto’s inner gentleman becomes questionable. But the payoff is big when Otto eventually redeems himself and serves out a poignant love story that could well put you to tears. The narrative swings from comedy to drama and packs an emotional punch that could make it a memorable experience for most.
Marc Forster’s helming is tight and to the point, disallowing any indulgences. Hanks stands tall even when he is being mean and unfriendly - and that’s a testament not only to his acting talents but also his ‘beloved’ standing among his fans. His real-life son Truman Hanks, who plays Otto’s younger self appears to be a chip off the old block. There are some well-sculpted supporting performances lending authenticity to the narrative but the real scene stealer here is the wonderful Mariana Treviño - who brings in levity, empathy, and ingenuity to the film which could well have ended up being maudlin and schmaltzy without her fresh uninhibited presence.
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