At The Movies: A Man Called Otto

A Man called Otto commences its cinema run in Australia on the 1st of January 2023 and is based on the 2012 Swedish language book and 2015 movie A Man Called Ove. I have both read the book and seen the original movie and this movie is a worthy remake and adaptation. Tom Hanks is perfect in the role of Otto as a gruff widower who slowly begins to see that life is worth living after the death of his wife 6 months previous. Tom and his wife Rita Wilson were watching a DVD copy of the 2015 movie in their home as part of his role as Governor for the Academy Awards and both felt it would be a perfect film to remake for the American Market.

Tom Hanks acting is wonderful in the film and much like Cate Blanchett, you forget you are watching Tom Hanks as he really seems to inhabit any role he is in. Tom’s real-life 27-year-old son Truman Hanks shows up and plays the younger Otto in flashbacks. The director Marc Forster asked Tom if he could talk to Truman to convince him to do the role so they would not have to audition a bunch of people who look like Tom.

Marc Foster has many varied films since stepping into the spotlight twenty years ago with films like the prison drama Monster’s Ball, James Bond’s Quantum of Solace and the apocalypse zombie film World War Z. Marc and Tom are able to present Otto as a man under stress whose daily irritation with things not being perfect around him is deeper than first shown to us. Even though I knew the story well it still affected me emotionally. The Swedish author Frederick Backman is an excellent writer and they definitely did justice to his book. I strongly suggest you seek his books and adaptions out. He has ten books of which four have already been adapted for movies or TV. I recently re-watched an adaptation of his book called Anxious People on Netflix which is fantastic.

The supporting cast for Tom was great but special mention must go to Mariana Treviño who is perfect in the role of Marisol, Otto’s pregnant and needy neighbour. In a pivotal emotional scene in the movie, they were very clever to use the song “This Woman’s Work” which is a 1989 Kate Bush song.  It was so appropriate, you would have thought it was specially written for this film.

After his polarising role as Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhman’s Elvis film, it is good to see Tom Hanks back in a more believable role. I look forward to seeing Tom’s next film which is an adaption of the SF graphic novel Here directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Movie Review By Richard De Pizzol

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