A Man Called Ove (directed by Hannes Holm). 2016.

A Man Called Ove

A man in deep mourning for his wife is determined to end his life and join her. Daily visits to the cemetery are not enough. He wants to be dead. In his late fifties, he quits his job before he is made redundant, and he seems to have nothing to live for, except making the rounds at the community housing where he lives. He tests that all of the gates are locked. He has a conniption any time he sees a car driving on the walkways where cars are strictly forbidden. He checks the garage stalls of each and every car to be sure that they are all bolted. This may sound dark and solemn, but the filming of each event has a touch of black humor a la Harold and Maude, or something out of a Gorey cartoon.

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Rolf Lassgard plays Ove

Slowly and expertly, the filmmaker reveals Ove’s background, through flashbacks, and his experience first as a son, then as a husband, makes it clear that he is not as one dimensional and gloomy as at first glance. He and his father were quite a team. His father loved him, almost to a fault.  As a young man, when men in white shirts threatened to take over his home, he decides to fix it up. How Ove responds to bad luck is part of his character. Ove steps in to rescue several people when no one else seems awake.

Back in the present, when a family with two adorable daughters, an Iranian wife, and a rather inept husband move in, and need to borrow a ladder, things begin to change. He has to pitch in to help. His old friend Rune, in a frozen state since his stroke, gives a glimpse of life. In the background, a stray cat begs for a home.  Besides painting a portrait of a complex man, the movie underlines how important it is to keep and have a stable home. Perhaps a few of the lines underline this in bold ink, but the overall effect is of a charming movie about real life that is bound to cheer you up because it reminds you that you are not alone, but one of many.

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About Patricia Markert

Moviegoer.
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