Film Review: A Man Called Ove

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The Highs and Lows of Swedish Life: Heartwarming tale of friendships healing powers.

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Hannes Holm’s adaptation of Fredrik Backman’s bestselling novel is guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes. One of Sweden’s most successful films, A Man Called Ove is the nation’s entry for the Oscars. It is a touching story of a grumpy old man who is unable to come to terms with grief.

Ove (Rolf Lassgård) is made redundant after 43 years service at the local rail network. The loss of a job so soon after his wife’s death pushes Ove to the brink. Determined to rejoin his wife he decides to end his life.

An intricate study of grief and resentment, the film is perhaps the closest Sweden has come to producing a home-grown equivalent of It’s A Wonderful Life. Director Hannes Holm’s tragi-comedic exploration of loss and acceptance is a celebration of the power of friendship.

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A tightly constructed script uses flashback sequences to let the audience see the tragic events that turned Ove into a curmudgeonly old man at war with the world. Unashamedly sentimental, the film is underscored by a strain of morbid Scandinavian humour. Poignant and moving, it shows how Sweden has changed over the last half-century and makes a positive contribution to the ongoing debate about immigration.

Rolf Lassgård delivers a career-defining performance as the crotchety senior citizen who is tired of life. The film gives him an opportunity to flex his comedic muscles while displaying an intense sensitivity beneath, In lesser hands, Ove might have come across as mawkish or a grotesque parody. Lassgård’s complex and layered performance grabs from the opening frame. He will have you laughing and crying throughout the film.

Bahar Pars rises to the challenge of playing opposite Lassgård. As pushy neighbour Parvenah she is effectively playing Clarence to Ove’s George Bailey. She creates a three-dimensional character which never descends into stereotype.

Possibly the most emotional cinema-going experience you will have this year. Take plenty of tissues.

A Man Called Ove is available on Blu-ray and DVD

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