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  • Colin Fraser


THREE STARS A grumpy old widower has his life turned around by immigrant neighbours.


Starring Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño

There’s an argument that this unabashedly sentimental comedy-drama is too mawkish for its own good, or ours come to think of it. That said, if you give in to the curmudgeon Otto and his unbending view of how the world should run, this could be the most alarmingly emotional film you’ll see this summer. Adapted from Sweden’s A MAN CALLED OVE based on a book of the same name, director Marc Forster (THE KITE RUNNER, FINDING NEVERLAND) gives it an American makeover and drops the ever reliable Tom Hanks in the titular role.

A reluctant widower, Otto has lived in the same small urban community most of his life. He rails against those who don’t follow the rules: unlocked gates, recycling bins and those who can’t reverse park a trailer etc. He’s even railing against living and has a plan to fix that problem in one of the film’s more graphic moments. When a new family moves in, they do their best to be good neighbours and begin whittling down Otto’s unsociable ways. It’s not an easy task, but a villainous real estate company gives them all cause to fight adversity and Otto’s skills come to the fore. The trajectory of the story is not surprising, nor particularly original, yet Hanks, Forster and writer David Magee (LIFE OF PI) push cliché to the background to create an utterly compelling foreground.

Granted A MAN CALLED OTTO is not especially subtle - the Mexican immigrant neighbours and inclusion of a trans paperboy (Otto’s late-wife’s ex-student) speak directly to the now in a way that screams woke and must have Fox pundits twisting themselves in knots of outrage - yet there’s such compassion in the frequently funny narrative that only a curmudgeon like Otto himself would be able to resist it. Enjoy the melancholic undertow, ignore the over-sweet ending and revel in Hank’s ability to command character and let yourself be seduced by people doing their best to be their best.



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