A Man Called Ove

Based on a 2012 best-selling Swedish novel, A Man Called Ove is a well-crafted darkly funny movie with a powerfully bittersweet message about the loss and unexpected discovery of love and friendship. Brilliantly portrayed by the Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård, Ove is a grumpy old man who lives alone in a suburban development where he tries to strictly control the homeowners association. He rarely associate with his neighbors but, when he does, he is usually reprimanding them for various relatively small infractions. With the arrival of an Iranian immigrant and her Swedish family in the close-knit community, things begin to change for the extremely guarded and unfriendly Ove. The film shows how he became such a curmudgeon by flashing back to his challenging past when he had some semblance of happiness with his wife. In morbidly humorous fashion, he reflects on his earlier life during his absurdly unsuccessful suicide attempts, which are largely interrupted by his new well-intentioned neighbors. Through the course of the movie, the viewer comes to sympathize with Ove who is largely the way he is because of profound grief he experiences ever since his beloved wife’s death. His Iranian neighbor develops an initially unwanted close relationship with him and helps him come to grips with the loss of his true love. Eventually, they become friends, and he learns from her to be a better neighbor and overall person. The film is so effectively able to be endearing due to its remarkable balance between moments of sentimentality and comedy, all without being an overly melodramatic depiction of grief. Overall, I found it to be a very refreshing movie attesting to the goodness of human nature while keeping the audience entertained through its rather dry sense of humor. It is another superb example of why foreign language films with subtitles should not be so readily disregarded by popular audiences; you will sorely miss a great movie full of powerfully uplifting emotions. 

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