You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of A Man Called Ove.
In the world of cinema, when you think of countries with great films you tend to think France, Italy, Japan, sometimes Germany or Spain. But my god does Sweden have their shit together. I often don’t think of Sweden’s film industry until I see one of their films and I’m like “Damn Sweden! You got some interesting points of view!” and then Sweden is all like “Yeah we do! Here is an artsy comedy about life and what it means to exist that you won’t laugh at but will think about for years to come!” and then I’m all like “Damn Sweden! You crazy! What else you got for me?” then Sweden opens up its jacket and reveals what it’s got. “We got a coming of age film about feminism and punk rock!” And I’m all like “Sweden! That is exactly interesting enough for me to want to see that!” Then Sweden looks at me and is like “How about the most uncomfortable film you will ever watch about a man falsely accused of pedophilia? It’s so depressing that it will be almost impossible to watch all the way through!” Then I’m all like “That’s great Sweden, but let’s pull it back into the comedies for a quick second.” Then Sweden nods and hands me A Man Called Ove.
A Man Called Ove is a Swedish comedy about a grumpy old man and how he connects with a new young neighbor and learns to love life and humanity again. The first thing you should know is that this film can bleed into cheesy territory. But you also have to accept that going it. This is a fun film about learning to love life. Obviously, you are going to have some cheese, there is a bit too much in one scene, which we will talk about later, but the cheese shouldn’t distract you from this otherwise moving and heartwarming story.
Firstly, I want to start with the cinematography of the film. I’ve currently seen three of the five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for the year of 2016, the other two being Toni Erdmann and The Salesman. Of the three, this is without a doubt the best shot film of the bunch. Not just in a color palette way. I will go on record and say that I am not a fan of the desaturated look that is creeping into becoming the popular look in film. The pastel color scheme just doesn’t do anything for me and it just feels nauseating for me to look at. That being said, I liked its use in this film. The film overall feels very much like a children’s storybook. And the color palette of the film is used to fit that aesthetic.
There is some goofy stuff that you would only see in a children’s book. Sometimes that is used as a way to tell a dark part of the story, but it feels goofy. I can understand if this is something that someone dislikes about the film. One example has to do with the death of Ove’s father in the film. How it happens, is goofy. The story about Saabs and Volvos is goofy. There is a lot of childlike wonder to the film and the darkness that one might imagine would be in a situation, is often diluted down with the goofy colors and presentation. And I did have a problem with this until the emotional climax of the film. The climax is handled with such a real and serious tone to it, that it makes a stark contrast to the rest of the film. And I feel that the film was made for this scene alone, and they made a movie around it. It is one of my favorite and most moving scenes I’ve seen in a long time. I watched this film on my computer on a seven-hour long plane ride. And when this scene hit, I was sobbing on a plane. The film had to have this childlike and goofy tone throughout because when it finally hit this moment, it made it feel more important and more real.
The only thing that I thought was a bit too cheesy would be considered a spoiler. So this paragraph will include something that you might see coming in the film, but if you have made up your mind already I would skip this paragraph. Toward the end of the film, Ove has a heart attack. They go to the doctor and the doctor comes back and tells his neighbor that his heart is just too big. Okay, calm down movie. I could put up with the cheese but this is ridiculous. Take a breather movie. They later mock this in the film, but I was still a little mad.
So A Man Called Ove is great. It is honestly my favorite of the three Oscar-nominated films. So thank you Sweden. You did yourself well once again. The Sweden was all like “Hey! How about this film now?” And then handed me the filmography of Lars Von Trier, to which I then punched Sweden in the face to remind it to stay in line.