A Man Called Ove may at first seem like a familiar story. The film opens with Ove, an old Swedish man, dressed in tones of black and grey, meticulously picking roses at a flower shop. We are introduced to what seems like the stereotypical, grumpy old man, as he bitterly argues with the florist about the price of the bouquets. A montage quickly ensues, showing Ove to be a man of strict routines with a long list of annoyances. Gaute Storaas’ dramatic string composition underscores the scene, highlighting the character’s unfriendly disposition. He acts as a patrol for his neighborhood, is obsessed with maintaining order, carefully cleans sand-filled toys from the children’s sandbox, and angrily scares innocent cats away. However, the film’s ability to toe the line between tragedy and comedy and its bright color palette, filled with juxtaposing whites, greys, and reds, give this film its own twist, in this writer’s opinion.
At the start of the film, Ove has given up on life, swallowed by grief due to his wife’s passing. He is ready to end his life, and what starts as a heartbreaking scene depicting his first suicide attempt, quickly takes a comedic turn, setting the tone for the rest of the story. An unfamiliar car, bringing a family of unexpected neighbors, stops right in front of his window and crashes into his mailbox. The arrival of this fresh presence, particularly the young and filter-less Parvaneh (played by Bahar Pars) who challenges Ove’s bitterness, sets him on an unexpected path.
Ovid.TV’s Adaptation Maintains the Original Work’s Lyricism
The film is an adaptation of the 2012 novel of the same name, written by Fredrik Backman. The novel was highly praised upon release due to its use of language and characterization, and the film follows on the same footsteps, in this writer’s opinion. With fast-paced, poetic dialogue, A Man Called Ove dares its viewers to live. “Either we die- or we live”, says Sonja, the protagonist’s wife, and although she is talking to her husband, it feels as if she were talking to us, too.
As the film unfolds, it becomes impossible to not empathize with Ove, as more is revealed of his life and his experiences with loss. His lack of social skills becomes nearly endearing, as the viewer watches him fall in love with Sonja over the years and prove his love in the most unexpected ways. By the end, this character has surpassed the stereotype and has become a fully fleshed human being we can’t help but root for.
For all those interested in heart-felt, tragicomedies, this is the film for you.
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Rolf Lassgård as Ove
Bahar Pars as Parvaneh
Filip Berg as Young Ove
Ida Engvoll as Sonja
Tobias Almborg as Patrick
Klas Wiljergård as Jimmy
Chatarina Larsson as Anita
Börje Lundberg as Rune
Director: Hannes Holms
Adapted Screenplay: Hannes Holms
Producer: Annica Bellander and Fredrik Wikström Nicastro
Cinematography: Göran Hallberg
Composer: Gaute Storaas
To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for A MAN CALLED OVE.
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author: Madalena Martins
Madalena is a young writer and actress based in Chicago. She was born and raised in Lisbon (Portugal- the home of soccer and custard tarts) then moved to Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and finally made it to the United States! Her international background resulted in a deep love for languages, cultures, travelling, and food. She is also a lover of theatre, cinema, music, and literature. In her free time, she enjoys writing, going to the beach, doing improv comedy and sketches with friends, talking to strangers, and suffocating her dog with love.
Besides this, she is interested in climate activism, feminism, and queer studies, and is interested in the intersections between these fields.