Film Reviews

“Just The Right Amount Of Tenderness”- Film Review: A Man Called Otto

Hannah Walton-Hughes

A Man Called Otto was released into cinemas on 6th January 2023. Based on the Swedish novel, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrick Backman, Tom Hanks stars as the widowed and highly suicidal Otto. This film is a story of how friendship from the most unexpected places can change somebody and show them that life really is worth living. Hannah Walton-Hughes reviews.

Tom Hanks once again reminds us why he is one of the most successful actors out there. I honestly cannot think of a single film I have seen him in that has been disappointing. He totally embodies every character he is cast as, and Otto is no exception.

This film is a prime example of a black comedy. Even the ways in which Otto attempts to commit suicide are presented in a humorous light. He tries to jump in front of a train, and somebody does it first. Every time he gets a noose ready, somebody knocks on the door. Of course, this is not a humorous topic by any means, but the film tastefully satirises it.

The attempted suicides are both strangely tranquil, whilst also adding an eerie anticipation for what is about to happen

Aside from Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño as Otto’s bubbly, feisty neighbour, expecting a baby, and new to the street is a pure joy to watch. The way in which she never gives up on Otto, and is determined to bring him out of his depressive spiral, is extremely heartening to watch. Mariana has had to fight to get to where she is, and the fact that she can remain so positive after her hard life begins to rub off on Otto. My favourite scenes between the two characters are the driving lessons; Mariana’s difficulties are all too similar to ones I had experienced myself!

Sometimes, flashbacks in a film can be disorientating. This is not the case in A Man Called Otto; they provide a beautiful backstory for Otto and his late wife Sonya, with just the right amount of tenderness portrayed as they fell in love. For me, this added significantly to my perception of Otto’s grief.

The way in which A Man Called Otto is filmed is magnificent. The backdrop lighting and camera angles illustrating the attempted suicides are both strangely tranquil, whilst also adding an eerie anticipation for what is about to happen. Whilst some of the scenes are lengthened a little too much (although this could just be my natural impatience clouding my judgement!), the repetitive routine Otto’s OCD makes him complete every morning, is covered with impact.

And finally…the ending. I will not give anything away, and that definitely was not a tear in the corner of my eye! In some ways devastating, but in many respects, cathartic, with a sense of real closure and relief.

I would implore everyone to see this film. It is not a film that necessarily needs to be seen in the cinema, but it would help. You leave with a greater faith in humanity.

Hannah Walton-Hughes

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @amancalledotto via No changes were made to these images.

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