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  • Writer's pictureEugene

A Man Called Otto (2022)

We certainly enjoyed talking about this film. For some of us, the memory of the Swedish original version was still fresh in our minds from last July. It was, of course, a matter of taste as to which was the best. Although Tom Hanks was suitably strong as the cantankerous Otto and the Mexican Marisol, played so vivaciously by Mariana Treviño, arguably stole the show, my vote would still go to A Man Called Ove. Culturally, the story was a better fit.

We all appreciated the tragic love story that explained why Otto, perfectly played by Tom Hanks, was so loathe to make changes in his home – “there was nothing before her and nothing after her.” We liked the way they were said to be so different, like “fire and ice” and yet clicked, although we didn’t see scenes that really showed that.

Some of the changes in the American version worked for us, some didn’t so much. The coach accident, with a sky view of possessions oddly laid out on the grass so neatly, looked more like a plane crash. We would have liked to have seen more of Sonya as a teacher and in later life, as an older disabled woman. The young Swedish Ove did feel more socially awkward than the role played by Truman Hanks. In the Swedish film, Ove’s future wife did the chasing….here we had Otto taking the lead, taking the wrong train to give her back a book she dropped.

It was interesting that a trans character was included, but would rude and grumpy Otto in real life have been quite as positive to him and the Mexican family? The point was made that the RSA short we included talked about loneliness and how anger can be a sign of this. The final incident with the organisation that came to take back the neighbour’s house and put the owners in a care home, felt contrived – we were witnessing Wild West baddies being chased out of town, really.

We spent some time talking about the music, which included Kate Bush and Paul McCartney. It wasn’t the best of Thomas Newman’s work, thought the musician among us.

Of course, we rather warmed to Otto’s regular bin sorting which would have worked well in Tunbridge Wells. Communal bins do bring out certain behaviour.

Three cheers to ‘Toast’ – a short film that enchanted our audience and received well deserved applause. Well done to Crowborough based Harry Walters, who was the star and wrote it.

Anne Goldstein

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