A Man Called Ove is what I like to refer to as a live-action Pixar film. In other words, a feel-good cartoon directed towards adults. In no way is this bad because there is no real terrible Pixar film besides Cars 2, but that’s an entirely different story. What I mean here is that films like A Man Called Ove follow a very particular pattern.
- Protagonist is presented as old, grumpy, and overrall dissatisfied with life.
- We learn that he wasn’t always like this until a certain event occurred in his life.
- Protagonist rekindles love of humanity by befriending younger people.
- We learn about the Protagonist’s back-story and the event that changed his perspective on life.
- Protagonist overcomes trauma and reassumes a happy position in life once again.
There it is, the five steps needed to make a feel-good drama that’ll either end up in contention for the Oscar’s or entirely disregarded. In the case of A Man Called Ove, it ended up in contention for the Oscar’s even though it’s extremely formulaic and doesn’t have much to offer. Then again, Hunt for the Wilderpeople simply provides laughs and doesn’t revolutionize cinema in any way despite being a great film. In the same way, I wouldn’t call A Man Called Ove a bad movie because it is rather charming in the application of a highly-effective formula, but I wouldn’t call it great either because as I watch A Man Called Ove I’m reminded of the countless films it replicates that came before it.
Cinematographically the film is rather dull, using a lot of grays and somber colors, replicating the Ove’s aura in a sense. Which is why when we get to see young Ove in flashbacks the landscape looks much brighter, but that’s fairly basic stuff. Apart from a fantastic sequence that sees young Ove in a bathroom stall that I don’t want to give away as it figures as a big plot-point, the cinematography doesn’t really accomplish anything remarkable. The score and soundtrack figure in the same way, they’re nice and ok but nothing extraordinary. Something director Hannes Holm does do really well is play with the film’s tonal balance, perfectly balancing comedy, drama and even melding them together to get the best of both worlds. The acting apart from Rolf Lassgård’s terrific embodiment of Ove is fine. Overall, what we’ve got with A Man Called Ove is but a grouping of fine elements that combine to make something fairly good.
As a film A Man Called Ove is a fine little Swedish film that I’m happy is garnering notoriety via its Oscar nom, but has me a tad disappointed that it’s taking up a spot I’m certain another revolutionary cinematic experience could’ve occupied. A Man Called Ove plays like a feel-good story about an old-man reintroducing happiness into his life, evoking tears along the way but leading to a happy finale nonetheless. Ralf Lassgård and Filip Berg both do a terrific job in interpreting the role of Ove. Hannes Holm does an excellent job balancing tone so it works to its greatest effect, elevating the formulaic feel-good story to something of a higher nature. All in all, A Man Called Ove is a sweet film with no punch.