by Nathan Roach
Director Hannes Holm’s interpretation of Fredrick Backman’s A Man Called Ove may have left the odd novel enthusiast gripping feverishly to the finer details of the original story but the film itself however, successfully tells the compelling tale of one tenacious Swedish civilian who steadily feels the weight beneath the many misfortunes of inauspicious circumstance but is progressively brought back from the brink with help from a new family in the neighbourhood.
At first glance, Rolf Lassgard’s Ove is portrayed to the audience as a crotchety man in steady decline from the sin of time, obligated by order and driven by a strong sense of following the terms of bureaucracy. Meticulous with upholding the rules of his community and remaining the ill-tempered character his neighbours see him as, you quickly learn that Ove is only a man distraught by a reality spent without his other half and the victim of a bitter-sweet history of unfortunate events.
Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her family seem to be Ove’s ‘Clarence Odbody’ however, walking in to his life and unintentionally saving it in due process. Although Pars’s character can easily be interpreted as an integral friend role, as the film progresses it is increasingly apparent that Ove sees her as a daughter figure as he also earns a strong relationship with her children and a humorous disapproval of her choice in husband. Full of emotionally-driven scenes of gut-wrenching despair, amusing discrepancies, heart-warming commitments and an endless Swedish dispute as to what car company truly is the superior manufacturer, this beautiful story delivers in terms of connecting with the matching/conflicting personalities as well as illustrating how a community can band together in order to help one another. Bahar Pars and Rolf Lassgard both offer exceptional performances, sinking deep into both roles and offering the audience a true escape and reality check from the hum-drum problems of reality in comparison to true involvement of life-altering experiences.
“Either we die, or we choose to live” is a simple but poignant line that has been re-interpreted and analysed countlessly throughout the passing generations of film and life alike but this tale in particular, gives a steady reminder of the delicate balance of mortality and fulfilment that leaves so many longing for that stability and leaving those who have found it lost when delivered a form of ill fate.
In conclusion, Hannes Holm’s reading of this bitter sweet romantic account will have you holding back the tears, giggling under your breath and gradually growing sweetly fond of this grumpy, old Swede and his new found comfortability of existence in a world he finally comes to understand again.
Dir: Hannes Holm
Scr: Hannes Holm
Starring: Rolf Lassgard, Bahar Pars, Filip Berg
Prd: Annica Bellander, Nicklas Wilkstrom Nicastro
DOP: Goran Hallberg
Music: Gaute Storaas
Runtime: 1h 56mins
A Man Called Ove is available on DVD and Blu-ray on 16th October