A story of love and loss inspires and uplifts: “A Man Called Otto” movie perfectly portrays heartfelt novel


By Sophia Dragich, Section Editor

Photo credit: Courtesy of IMDB

If you are looking for a sweet, heartfelt and uplifting movie that perfectly portrays the novel it was inspired by, “A Man Called Otto” is the film for you. Premiering in theaters on Jan. 13, this movie is the second film adaptation of the 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove.” Tom Hanks plays a grumpy old man named Otto who grieves the loss of his wife, but learns to appreciate the ups and downs of life with his neighbors and friends. 

When I read the novel, I loved how the author combined flashbacks with present-day descriptions of the characters. I learned about Ove’s past and got a better understanding of his motives and values in the present. I also loved how the author portrayed a grief-filled story with elements of optimism. Showing Ove’s development as well as his relationships with the other characters left me feeling uplifted and inspired. I give the book 5/5 stars.

Similar to the book, Otto prides himself on critiquing store employees, doing daily “checks” for parking violations around the neighborhood and scoffing at the “idiots” on his block. He initially plans to end his life in order to reconnect with his late wife Sonya. Through the course of the story, however, his plan gets derailed as he is introduced to new neighbors and feels obligated to help them with their problems. 

Toward the beginning of the movie, just like in the book, Otto is introduced to an energetic couple who has just moved into his neighborhood. The woman, Marisol, immediately introduces herself. Despite his repeated attempts to push her loving personality to the side, Otto begins to care deeply for Marisol. The two become close friends, and Marisol’s daughters even nickname him their “Abuelo Otto” towards the end of the movie.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Goodreads

I loved how the movie focused on Otto’s friendship with Marisol, and how she brought out the best in him. Her sparkling personality and exciting energy contrasted his anger, bitterness and grief. She would tease him about his negative attitude and always tried to make him smile, delivering homemade food and insisting that he teach her how to drive. I appreciated that their friendship was a central part of the movie, but I wish the movie developed Otto’s other relationships more. The book, which emphasized the backgrounds and stories of these other characters, did a better job of humanizing them. Characters like the real estate agents and even Otto’s longtime “enemy” were afterthoughts in the movie, although they played a central role in the book. I wish these subplots were incorporated more. 

However, I loved how the movie incorporated flashbacks of Otto and his late wife as well as the special moments between Otto and his neighbors that made the grumpy old man show his sentimental and endearing side. These elements of the book were memorable, so I was excited to see how they manifested in the movie. Otto’s reflections of the past were sweet and emotional, and they made his bitter actions more understandable. 

I was also pleasantly surprised that Hanks portrayed Otto’s transition from a bitter pessimist to a loving friend so well. His acting was fitting for the role, and he made the book version of the character really come to life. Hanks’s depiction of a depressed old man was somehow endearing and lovable. 

The actors made the memorable characters from the book shine through. I found myself laughing at Otto’s obnoxious requests and tearing up at the emotional flashbacks. This movie depicted tough issues like mental health and grief in a way that was uplifting and inspiring. Even with its somewhat cheesy moments and sad ending, this movie left me feeling heart warmed and appreciative, just like the book did. I rate it 4.5/5 stars.