There’s a saying – “Man proposes, God, disposes”. In simple words, it means that despite the best of choices, it’s the fate of the man that decides what happens in his life. Sometimes the best-laid plans go astray because it’s simply wasn’t meant to be. Irrespective of the man’s plans and best efforts put forward, life takes its own pre-chosen way to move forward. But does that mean a man should let life take its course? Should he allow life to lay its plan and be at its mercy? Or should he fight back hard and snatch back his share of happiness from life? Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman, ‘A Man Called Ove’ (2015) is about a man, who’s been betrayed by life and has remained grumpy ever since. How he gets back his share of happiness, forms the crux of the story. At the 89th Academy Awards, the film was nominated in the categories of Best Foreign Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. As part of an initiative of the Swedish Embassy in India and the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation, the movie was recently screened online as part of the Swedish Film Festival. Read on to know more about the film.

In a scenic and quaint neighbourhood, Ove Lindahl, a sexagenarian widowed man lives and acts as the self-appointed guardian of the community. Always grumpy and complaining about the disturbing and unruly neighbours and life in general, one day he decides to end his life, as he has grown tired of people around him. As he prepares to hang himself, he hears a commotion outside his home. Angry, he comes outside to see the reason and gets to meet a new immigrant family that just has moved into the neighbourhood. Thus begins a weird chain of events, where every time Ove tries to take his life, something or the other happens which prevents him from doing it. Whenever Ove attempts suicide, various episodes of his life flashes in front of his eyes. Over these flashbacks, we learn how Ove became the grumpy old man, from a simple, ambitious young chap. 

It’s an endearing story about men coming to terms with life and its plan. Ove’s character represents each one of us who believe that they are ready to take on life with their plans and elaborate schemes, only to be sucker-punched by life’s own plans. Ove is the quintessential angry man, who has become bitter in life and people because he feels betrayed by them. In various episodes of his life, we get to learn that death and personal losses are something that makes people resentful. Death turns people into memories whereas losses make people angry. Ove, through the various losses of his life and deaths, becomes lonely, which makes him become acerbic towards all, be it the speed rule-defying car drivers or white-collared government officials or his friend and neighbour of many years who he despises for his choice of car! Ove remains a loner throughout his life as he seldom opens to people. Dry humour plays out throughout the film as Ove disdainfully shuts off people after people, due to their irrelevance and idiocies. But as the story comes around, with Ove, we also get to see that if life is ever taking, then it’s also ever giving in nature. The term ‘Count one’s blessings’ becomes the metaphor for Ove to imbibe as slowly he gets to see this aspect of life, as he mingles with his new neighbours.

Rolf Lassgard plays Ove. He brings an authenticity to Ove’s character by becoming the grumpy, old man who literally despises everything in life, after the loss of a dear one. Philip Berg plays the young Ove who finds a new meaning of life after he meets Sonja, his wife travelling on a train. Bahar Pars as Parvaneh, the Iranian neighbour of Ove becomes the daughter that Ove could never have. The chemistry between Ove and Pervaneh is one of the highlights of the film, that stays with the viewer long after the film’s over. Ove regularly visits his wife’s grave and opens his heart out there. Over the course of the film’s duration, one can see his complaints losing their edge as he feels responsible towards his neighbours. Ove’s love for cars, especially the Saab brand and his resentment towards the modern-day cars such as Audi, BMW, Volvo are also indicative of how people are resistant towards any type of change in their life. In fact, there are moments in the film that tugs the corner of your heart because of their resemblance to real life.

If you get a chance to see this film, don’t miss it! Directed by Hannes Holm, run time of 114 minutes. Rated universal for viewing by all age groups.


The Cinemawala Rating:3/5

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