It makes me so sad how often people write off a film because it’s foreign and/or because it’s subtitled. Some of the best films I’ve seen have been subtitled and after a while, you get so used to watching movies with subtitles that you start watching English movies with subtitles… and here I am. Doing that frequently.
Anyway, my second movie of the NOFSA Film Festival was A Man Called Ove. Ove is pronounced oh-vay, by the way. I learned this pretty much instantly. It is not pronounced oh-vvvv as I was under the impression previously (I am ashamed, I am uncultured swine). We got stuck at the front because apparently a lot more people wanted to see A Man Called Ove than had wanted to see Hello, Destroyer, which is not surprising since Ove was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at this past Oscars ceremony! It unfortunately lost to The Salesman, which I’m going to see next Sunday (maybe I’ll get there a bit earlier this time, though).
I was far more impressed with Ove than I was with Destroyer! I almost want to watch it again, it was that good. Ove is a grouchy, yet oddly loveable old Swedish man and while you should hate him in the first 10 minutes of the film for his stringent application of the rules and regulations of his neighbourhood and the way he calls small dogs “winter boots,” you just can’t. From the get-go, he’s endearing in his grouchiness. Throughout the course of the film, you learn Ove’s entire life story bit by bit as he: befriends his new neighbours, Parvaneh, Patrick and their two daughters; fights for his old friend, Rune; mourns his wife, Sonja; and finally, adopts a stray (seemingly purebred Ragdoll) cat.
When we first meet Ove, he’s trying to commit suicide and join his wife in the afterlife, however, it turns out to be relatively difficult since there are so many DARN interruptions going on around him. Each time he tries a new method, continually only to look out the window and notice someone breaking the rules or to have someone knock on his door, which sounds like a gimmicky attempt at getting cheap laughs, but it works. It really, really works.
By the end of the film, I was so attached to so many of these characters that are so quirky in their own ways. The movie spent a lot of time making sure you got to know each character well. I mean, I had questions about certain motivations, but they were flaws I was willing and able to let go because in the grand scheme of the film, they didn’t matter that much. What mattered was Ove, and his character, and his friendships, and his rounds.
A Man Called Ove was touching and heartwarming without going overboard and being too sentimental or sappy. It was really well done and you can definitely colour me impressed!