A Man Called Otto is an emotional and enthralling journey from director Marc Forster. The film is a remake of A Man Called Ove (2015), which is based on the book of the same name published in 2012 by Fredrik Backman. I saw A Man Called Ove in the fall of 2016 and I loved it. A Man Called Otto has a melancholy, loneliness vibe at its core, but it has moments of joy and happiness and it is very endearing. It’s a film where love and disconnect finds meaning.
A Man Called Otto introduces its audience to Otto Anderson, played by Tom Hanks. Otto is a grouchy widower, and he spends his days getting mad at people for various reasons. He gets annoyed with how people park outside his apartment, he gets mad at store clerks. Otto is a by the book kind of guy. If someone doesn’t follows the rules of Otto’s world, then all bets are off with his attitude.
Tom Hanks’ portrayal of a widower and angry man is stellar, and he really makes us feel his moments of sadness. When Otto visits his wife’s grave and talks to her, his feelings seem so real as he vents and says to her, “Nothing works when you’re not home.”
Otto meets a new neighbor, Marisol, played by Mariana Trevino, and he begins helping her and her family adjust to their new home and the neighborhood. Despite Otto’s ongoing grief, his friendship with Marisol starts to change his life. He still gets annoyed, but his good heart shows. He teaches Marisol how to drive and he helps with her kids, but he also reminds her that the world and life is not the easiest place in the world.
As Otto begins changing, he is still depressed at times when he remembers his wife. The film weaves us through the good and bad times of Otto’s life. Otto’s journey paints a picture of how it feel to be alone. We have compassion for Otto when he does good deeds for Marisol. Otto is only human, and he knows right from wrong, but he struggles to realize how his attitude impacts others.
A Man Called Otto has a lot of the same themes as its predecessor. But A Man Called Ove took place in Sweden, like the book, and A Man Called Otto takes place in the United States. Even though I think I liked the original film more, I have much appreciation for A Man Called Otto. Tom Hanks brings a level of respect and empathy for his character, and he delivers a poetic performance.
When we begin to see Otto finding light amongst his turmoil, it is encouraging. But how much can Otto improve his attitude? Will he continue to choose suffering, or will he actually find happiness again? What does Otto’s future hold? Find out in A Man Called Otto. Three and a half stars.