Life comes will all sorts of ups and downs, pains and pleasures, and joys and sorrows. No matter what it has to offer, at times, it’s best spent sharing these moments with the people we love. In A Man Called Otto, Tom Hanks learns just how cruel life can be when that one special person is taken away from him. Forced to deal with the unpleasantries within his neighborhood, including the plethora of idiots surrounding him, Otto contemplates ending it all. The film is adapted from the New York Times bestseller, A Man Called Ove, which shows that family can be found in some of the most unexpected places at unexpected times.
Following the death of his beloved wife Sonya (Rachel Keller), Otto (Tom Hanks), the neighborhood grump, no longer sees purpose in his life. Otto is ready to end it all, but his plans get interrupted when a lively young family moves in next door. Marisol (Mariana Treviño), the matriarch of the bunch, is quick-witted and challenges Otto to see life differently. Ultimately, their banter leads to an unlikely friendship that turns Otto’s world around. Additionally, it challenges him to rethink the meaning of family.
A Man Called Otto is heartwarming
Marc Foster’s adaptation, written from a screenplay by David Magee, is everything one would expect from a story like this. There’s humor and heartwarming moments among the characters that are bound to challenge the way we think about family. Otto, the stickler for rules, boundaries, and routines has suffered enormous tragedies in his life. And he uses his pride in maintaining order around the neighborhood to distract him from his pains. In reality, these are just excuses Otto uses to clear disruptions from hearing his wife’s voice call to him at any given moment. Because truth be told, he is a compassionate man who does a lot for those in need.
When a person has dealt with such great tragedies in life, it could be hard to think about anything but ending it. Magee’s script captures these sentiments so elegantly through Otto. Paired with frequent flashbacks to slowly reveal the reasons behind Otto’s current mental state, viewers can expect a story that provokes great amounts of sympathy. Often, these moments present themselves in humorous ways, which works in favor of the script. Yet, they never take away from the seriousness of its true themes, which for Otto, is finding the joys in life and reasons to live.
A sincere script
Throughout A Man Called Otto, viewers will also come to know the dynamic neighborhood and its inhabitants. People like Anita (Juanita Jennings) and Reuben (Peter Lawson Jones) once had a great friendship with Otto and his late wife. Then, there’s Malcolm (Mack Bayda), Sonya’s former student who has also become a part of Otto’s life. Finally, there’s Jimmy (Cameron Britton), who typically provides comedic relief. No matter their relationship to Otto, the script does a nice job providing them backstories that give these characters their own space. Yet, they all serve a central purpose to the film’s themes as well.
The cast, in particular, is simply sensational. Of course, Tom Hanks is reliable as the titular character, but his ability to act as a loveable grump is next-level respectable. The real star of the film, for me though, is Mariana Treviño. She gives a flawless performance with every tear she cries, word she speaks, and move she makes. What a remarkable talent and a scene-stealer. Truthfully, the entire cast and crew gave a great effort to produce a film that could inspire even the faintest of hearts.
A great cast
A heartwarming and funny story about love, loss, and life, A Man Called Otto shows that family doesn’t just come from blood. It’s about the people we dedicate our time and compassion to, while sharing memories that will last a lifetime. Foster’s adaption and Magee’s script works well capturing themes of depression, while also providing moments that are uplifting. So, if you’re looking for a film that can get the tears rolling and even put a smile on your face to start the new year, this may be the one to do it.
Catch the trailer for A Man Called Otto, in theaters Friday, January 13th: