Life is relentless yet fulfilling, Ove just hasn’t felt fulfilled in a while.
The Oscar nominated film A Man Called Ove tells the story of a man, Ove, who’s old, grumpy and has been completely broken by life. His wife’s passed away not six months ago and when he’s “relieved” from his job he has nothing to live for, decides to bid goodbye to everything he knows and to meet his wife in the after life. This plan goes completely astray when a disorganised, messy young family move in across the street and give him the opportunity to reflect and change in order to live a fulfilling life.
Director Hannes Holm has written and directed many a time but was sceptical of bringing this Swedish novel, written by Fredrik Backman, to life due to its best selling novel status. Although he decided to do the film because of its focus on death, which is a common thread in many of his other films. Holm sees death as ‘such a good element to have even in the most funny sense’ – a rule of thumb which definitely holds true in this film as the two genres of comedy and drama are melded beautifully to create lightness in the darkest of moments.
The cinematography in this film is beautiful. The opening montage of clips; the cars going around a round about, the houses lined up so perfectly like something out of a cartoon and the image of Ove’s back as he walks into the symmetrical cemetery where his wife is buried. It’s beautiful, simple, crisp camera work that stuck in my mind long after watching the film and threw me into the world of Ove, a niche yet universal backdrop for this unique story.
The warm, vulnerable tone of this film allowed me to immerse myself in the story – to understand and empathise with Ove. One of my favourite scenes from the film was a flashback of Ove’s childhood. Ove goes to work with his father at a train station and wanders off onto the tracks as a train comes puffing towards him. When his father grabs him off the tracks it’s a very near miss and after the incident, little Ove hugs his father all day, all the way as they walk home right until he’s put to bed and his father has to ask him to let go. It’s a beautiful intimate moment that is so perfectly imperfect. This happens again and again throughout this film. Through every twist and turn, and high and low, you continue to sink your teeth into the story because of these real, imperfect, subtle moments and are constantly reminded that Ove is only human. He makes mistakes but we know, as a viewer, that these come from a place of love. I think the depth and sincerity of the characters really translate from the book to the screen and enhances all elements of the film.
At times I felt that the dark relentless obstacles that kept coming Ove’s way were excessive and threatened to ruin the emotional tenor but I think the humour worked to the advantage of this flaw and stopped it from becoming monotonous.
Overall, A Man Called Ove instills a sense of perspective in the viewer. After leaving the film with a friend she said that she wanted to call everyone she truly cared about to tell them she loved them. I think that’s the best gift a film can give someone, a clarification of the importance of life and forming relationships that fulfil and drive you. This was a beautifully layered, utterly effortless and intimate film that we can all relate to.