Respond to these rapid questions in our A Man Called Ove quiz and we will tell you which A Man Called Ove character you are. Play it now.
The novel “A Man Called Ove” retells the classic tale of the grumpy old man whose life is turned around by events that are out of his hands but ultimately bring him joy. These forces take the form of a much younger individual who gives the elderly hero a sense of direction and purpose in his or her life. Not only does the success or failure of a movie like this depend on the central performance, but also on how well the movie is able to engage the viewer’s emotions in a way that is credible and honest. Because audience sympathy for the protagonist is at least partially elicited by flashbacks to a litany of tragic or unfair past events, films like this one tend to get dismissed as “manipulative,” which is a shame because such films deserve better. However, by definition, movies all engage in some form of manipulation; the more important factor to evaluate is the degree to which the manipulation is successful. On that metric, “A Man Called Ove” is a successful film that manages to be both morbidly funny and emotionally moving.
Hannes Holm, who wrote and directed the film and adapted Frederick Backman’s Swedish best seller, doesn’t deviate too much from the conventional narrative framework that we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Instead, he subverts assumptions through the manner in which he presents the material, and his command of the complex, ironic tone of the movie is nothing short of masterful. For instance, several flashbacks are deftly portrayed as “life flashing before one’s eyes” moments that are triggered by the attempts at suicide made by Ove (Rolf Lassgard). Ove is a recently widowed man who makes it a habit to pay his recently departed wife a visit at her gravesite on a daily basis. At the end of each visit, Ove makes a solemn pledge to reunite with his wife in the afterlife. He is constantly interrupted by neighbors or some distracting event that is going on in his housing complex, which is the primary cause of his failed attempts at self-annihilation rather than any actual mistakes he may have made. Ove, who takes great pride in his dependability, feels compelled to refrain from killing himself in order to respond to each interruption.
It is important to keep in mind that the sarcastic humor that is present here does not come from making fun of Ove’s anguish over the loss of his spouse. This is portrayed as a genuine and relatable source of suffering. The source of the humor, on the other hand, is Ove’s intransigence as a creature of routine. Ove is constantly enforcing rules in the neighborhood that nobody cares about and nobody follows, and he cannot resist the opportunity to reprimand those who violate these rules. Even with all of his grumpiness, Ove has a certain level of selflessness built into his character. This is a trait that drives him crazy, but he accepts it with reluctance nonetheless. His wife, Sonja, who is portrayed in flashbacks as a young woman by Ida Engvoll, recognizes this trait in the younger version of Ove (played by Filip Berg), and the much older version of Ove eventually acknowledges it after a great deal of complaining and grousing. It’s almost as if Sonja is interfering from beyond the grave by sending him interruptions so that he can have an excuse to complain to her like he’s done every day since she passed away. Ove’s attention will be diverted as a result of his compulsive adherence to routine.
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Ove is also easily distracted by the young family that has recently moved in next door to him. They get off to a bad start by destroying his mailbox while ignoring his sign asking people not to drive in the area, and the noise from their young children is a significant source of annoyance for Ove, who does not have any children of his own. Even though the pregnant wife, Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), is of Iranian descent and is new to the country, the husband is a native of the region. She is the one who continually annoys Ove while at the same time endearing herself and her family to him. She stops many of his attempts to end his life, and the eventual formation of their relationship in the form of a father-daughter bond is frequently predicated on Ove’s opinion that his assistance is required because he believes her husband to be an idiot.
A Man Called Ove Quiz
After taking on the role of her driving instructor, Ove says to her, “You survived struggle in Iran, moving here and learning a new language, and being married to that idiot; driving a car should be no problem!” Obviously, she is unable to drive it anywhere that Ove has posted “no driving” signs because those are ignored by everyone else.
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It’s true that “A Man Called Ove” throws everything at poor Ove, but the kitchen sink isn’t one of them. Early on, there is a shocking death that stays with him (and with us), and he is the target of several slights by higher ups at work and in the government. Both of these things haunt him. There is a lot of love in the marriage between the quiet Ove and the outgoing Sonja, but it is also filled with a lot of personal tragedy. Despite the fact that some of his destinies have an almost Job-like callousness to them, the movie does not linger on these aspects of his life. Instead, they are presented in a rather unflinching manner and are used to help us comprehend why Ove is the person he is today. This is a film in which the protagonist is given a cat in order to make him more likable, which sounds saccharine until you see how messed up and scraggly the cat is. Ove tells Parvaneh about their friend that “He likes to shit in private.” “Would you kindly extend that courtesy to him?”
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One gets the impression that the novel (as well as the film adaptation, which won multiple accolades) is so well-liked because Ove embodies the concept of a typical man in Scandinavia who carries on with his life regardless of the challenges he faces. His admirable resilience toughens like leather, and his love of Saab and hatred of Volvo plays out like a beautiful inside joke aimed straight at the hearts of his fellow countrymen. That rivalry even causes him to lose a friend, but the subplot involving that same friend shows Ove fighting angrily against the heartless bureaucrats who were responsible for causing him so much anguish when he was younger. Holm brings everything together in a cohesive, satisfying package that is artfully crafted and strikes a nice balance between comedic and dramatic elements.
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Lassgrd delivers one of the most impressive performances of the year in the role of Ove. Even though he has a lot of help from the other actors (and, as we’ve already mentioned, a cat), he still manages to give a performance that is funny and emotional at the same time. It would have been simple to let Ove get away with just coasting by on his amusing grouchiness, but Lassgaard allows us to see so deeply into what lies beneath that protective exterior. We have the impression that we have experienced Ove’s catharsis for ourselves and that we have walked a mile in his shoes.