Jack Bottomley, Media Correspondent

Films: A Man Called Otto

In so many instances when European stories make the leap to America, there seems to be a need to scrub away the darker edges. Yet, it is in these edges that we sometimes find the most impactful points and meanings. So, in spite of the marketing making Finding Neverland director Marc Foster’s comedy drama appear like a full on sweet and feel good romp, it is so refreshing to see the faithfulness with which it has been refashioned.

An adaptation of Fredrick Backman’s 2012 international bestseller A Man Called Ove, and a remake of the Swedish 2015 film of the same name by Hannes Holm, A Man Called Otto is a heart breaking, heart warming and reaffirming success.

The film focuses on Otto (Tom Hanks), a recently and begrudgingly retired widower, who feels that life has now passed him by. Isolating himself from the community, the cantankerous Otto just struggles to find a reason to keep on going, that is until the benefit of human connection finds him again in many unexpected forms.

A Man Called Otto may be a formula you have seen before but thanks in no small part to Tom Hanks' incredible against type performance, it's a winning one. He is a perfect fit for such a role and is rightly the heart of the picture, while Mariana Treviño stands out among a charming, diverse and lovely cast. Which includes an adorable cat!

By not avoiding the Swedish source material's (be it the novel or the film) darkness, this story of loss, loneliness, despair and the power of human contact is one that will strike strongly with all but the coldest of hearts.

What we in cinema writing might call a weepy, this film may be an emotional watch but it is also a quite charming and offbeat one. Reminding you that life goes on, even after trials and tribulations, and that the best days can come when we least expect them.

A funny, well acted and poignant film, A Man Called Otto feels like the less hard edged, gun toting, sibling of Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino and yet still does not shy away from life's rough times and feelings. Nor does it resist the warmth of living.

You may well see a familiar sight in Hanks’ antihero, in your own community, or even in the mirror. So don’t resist the familiar beat of this film’s heart, let it in, and you’ll find a very worthwhile and somewhat eccentric experience, which is warm without being sickly and enjoyable without being sugar-coated.

A very nice start to 2023.

Director: Marc Foster
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Release Date: Out Now (Cinemas)