Based on the best-selling novel by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Otto is a tale of love, loneliness, and friendship. Director Marc Forster enriches the story with contemporary issues, such as gender identity and the complexities of modern families, differing from the 2015 Swedish version A Man Called Owe. A Man Called Otto is a must-see for fans of the original film and everyone looking for a heartwarming drama.
Tom Hanks delivers a poignant performance as Otto, a lonely, misanthropic elderly man who is troubled by the past and is grieving the passing of his wife. His sadness manifests in anger toward the “idiots” that surround him. Towards the chihuahua who pees in his front yard, towards the cashier who charges thirty extra cents, and towards the new family who moves in opposite his house. Despite himself, Otto befriends the new neighbors and forms a close bond with the fiery and magnetic mother Marisol, played by Mariana Treviño. Through their friendship, Otto’s past is unearthed in moving flashbacks, and he rediscovers the joys of love and connection through the people around him.
Although the story can be predictable at times, and it sometimes feels like a bingo card to elicit tears, the film’s cinematography is a standout feature. It provides a sense of intimacy and safety through its use of soft, warm colors from the past and snowy, blue tones from the present. The director’s attention to detail in depicting the mundanity of life, such as the steaming lunchbox containing tamales and the hard texture and coolness of Otto’s suits, show how there is depth, peculiarity, and delicacy in the ordinary. Attention to detail and the tender shifts between shots, which use the repetition of symbols and objects that connect the past and the present, further add to the film’s overall atmosphere of warmth and familiarity and depict a natural flow to the story.
A man called Otto is a film about familiar people with pasts and stories that we recognize in our lives too. It is an ordinary story with ordinary characters, appreciating the beauty and complexity of the seemingly mundane moments of life.
Written by Míra Bokor