Starring: Rolf Lassgård, Filip Berg, Bahar Pers
Director: Hannes Holm
Running Time: 116 mins
A Man Called Ove (En man som heter Ove) is a Swedish film about a grumpy widower who, on the verge of killing himself, develops an unlikely relationship with a young family that moves in across the street.
I was really impressed by this film. Not only is it a surprisingly entertaining and engrossing drama (not to mention that it’s filled to the brim with heart), but it’s got a stunningly moving story at its core. Rather than presenting itself as a love story for the ages, A Man Called Ove is a genuine, down-to-earth, and as such fantastically relatable film that really touched me.
If there’s one thing that really makes this movie, however, it’s the lead performance by Rolf Lassgård. Combining a tinge of classic black Scandinavian humour and genuine and powerful emotion, Lassgård makes the film’s story, one of learning in depth about a man and his past in order to understand and forgive him his current state, so easy to be gripped by.
The story structure is another hugely impressive part of the movie. Starting off in fairly simple fashion, the film suddenly hits you with a fantastic change of structure, beginning to weave between the present and the past, all centring around Ove. In that, you have two main stories, one of Ove’s passionate young love with his wife, Sonja, and the other of his befriending of new neighbours, finally bringing him out of the shell he retracted into after his wife’s death.
Now, both stories are brilliantly engrossing. It’s delightful and heartwarming to see Ove become more positive after he begins to grow closer to the new neighbours, whilst the story of his romance with Sonja is utterly beautiful. Incredibly nostalgic, and developing appropriately in tandem with the story of the present, the flashbacks here are perfectly used, and make for a truly beautiful and genuinely moving watch.
It’s definitely true that the overall plot here isn’t the most unpredictable. In fact, it’s almost exactly what a full-length drama centring on Carl Fredrickson from Up would look like, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t any good (I for one would love to see that Up spin-off). Yes, you can see the main story beats coming, but the real joy of watching this film is seeing the dramatic transformation of our main character in two different time periods over the course of the whole movie.
Delivered with pure heart, and still retaining an impressive dramatic impact, I loved A Man Called Ove. It’s not a perfect movie, but a brilliant central performance combined with excellent writing make for an entertaining, engrossing and touching watch, which is why I’m giving it an 8.1 overall.