“A Man Called Ove” absorbs you

Jacksonville Release Date: December 2 at Sun-Ray Cinema
Running Time: 1 hour and 56 minutes
Language: Swedish with English subtitles
Rated PG-13
Grade: A
Written & Directed By: Hannes Holm

A Man Called Ove is a character-driven film based on Fredrik Backman’s international best-selling novel. The film is the official Swedish selection for the Foreign Film category for the Oscars and I can see why.

A Man Called Ove absorbs you.  Director Hannes Holm tells Ove’s story in present day with extensive flashbacks into his life as a child, teenager and young adult.  The story he weaves allows you to understand the happiness that Ove experienced when he met his future wife Sonja and the extreme sadness he feels with her loss.

One of Sweden’s best known actors, Rolf Lassgård is brilliant as the lead Ove Lindahl.  His Oscar worthy portrayal of the curmudgeon is nearly perfect in every way.  It resonates and is sure to hit home with many that have experienced pain and loss.

I love how Holm opens the film with Ove going about his daily routine.  He lives in a small walkable community that does not allow cars inside.  You must park them on the perimeter in little garages. Every morning he walks the entire area as a self-imposed neighborhood watch captain and ensures that garage doors are locked, bicycles are put away and cigarette butts are picked up. The subtitles tell you what he is saying, but you can also grasp it from his gestures and tone.  He argues with the sales associate at a flower shop, yells at a neighbor walking her dog and someone driving a car on the walking path. One of his favorite words is “idiot”.  He frequently says everyone is an idiot.

Ove is the epitome of the grumpy old man/busy body neighbor.  Ove is so unhappy with life after Sonja that he decides to commit suicide.  He puts on his best suit and decides to go about hanging himself in the living room.  He is interrupted more than once and needless to say, he gives up on that method. Holm is able to layer these scenes with a bit of humor. During the suicide attempts we learn more about Ove and what led him to be the way he is.  An engineer by trade, he loves Saabs, building things and can fix almost anything.

It is when he meets Parvaneh, her husband Patrick and their two daughters that things begin to slowly change.  In time, Ove’s shell begins to crack and his heart softens not only to Parvaneh, but to long-time friends, former students of Sonja and complete strangers.

This touching film reminds us how lonely life can be when we shut out everyone and try to live it without joy.  However, it also shows us how wonderful life can be when you open your heart and live.

A Man Called Ove is a powerful, introspective film that tugs at your emotions.  It opens Friday, December 2 at Sun-Ray Cinema in 5-Points.  Make plans to see it this holiday season.  You will be glad you did. ~ Leigh Ann Rassler


Rolf Lassgård as Ove Lindahl
Filip Berg as young Ove
Ida Engvoll as Sonja Lindahl
Bahar Pars as Parvaneh
Tobias Almborg as Patrick
Klas Wiljergard as Jimmy
Chatarina Larsson as Anita
Borje Lundberg as Rune

About Leigh Ann Rassler