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A Man Called Otto (PG-13) ★★★½

By January 14, 2023February 5th, 2023Backstage Pass

The best thing a film can try to do is shift through the impression that everything is a foregone conclusion, thus leaving viewers without any possibilities. “A Man Called Otto” starring Tom Hanks as Otto does just that, a depressed, suicidal elderly man who wants to end his life and believe me, this fact is made clear within a few scenes into the film. Here’s the good news, change can occur when one least expects it, and here a community of neighbors rallies.

The film is based on a popular 2012 Swedish bestselling book, “A Man Called Ove,” which I read and enjoyed; I also imagined Tom Hanks playing the part while I was reading. It’s a downer of a subject and not one that I’d particularly recommend, although the compassion of people can be surprising and, in this case, mean the difference between life and death.

Having been widowed and forced to retire from his job of 40 years, Otto is extremely depressed, cranky, and tired of living life. He attempts suicide numerous times in the film, only to be interrupted by his neighbors. I’m not giving away any spoilers here as one should know, in this case, what they’re getting into with a film. The most complex parts to watch are Otto’s profound loneliness and sadness. Although viewing the neighbor’s constant interactions with him is heartwarming.

Look for the driving scene in which Otto gives a speech to a forlorn pregnant mom that needs to learn to drive to take her kids to school. His sincere, motivating speech to her is incredible. Only the Tom Hanks could pull that scene off.

The film has value as you never know whom you may be able to help or if a person in need of help discovers it’s okay to ask for help.

The film is playing now in theaters.

Director: Marc Forester

Screenplay: David Magee

Cast: Mariana Treviño as Marisol ; Rachel Keller as Sonya ; Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Tommy

Sarah Knight Adamson© January 14, 2023