A Man Called Otto (2022) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

A Man Called Otto ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– Review by Andrea Carnevali

Otto is a grump who’s given up on life following the loss of his wife and wants to end it all. When a young family moves in nearby, he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol, leading to a friendship that will turn his world around. Available to watch on Netflix.

I’ve always thought if ever there was a man who is impossible to dislike, it would be Tom Hanks (though I was proven wrong just yesterday, when chatting to a friend, she told me how much she detested him… Go figure?! I guess that might be the exception that confirms the rule). Tom exudes a warm and friendly persona that makes him instantly relatable and likeable whatever the film. A sort of modern-day Jimmy Stewart, as he has often been described. He seems to have a natural charm, wit, and affability which makes the audience feel like they’re watching a trusted friend.

Clearly the makers behind this film are very aware of Hanks’ superpower, so much so that they are willing to let him play against his type, as the grumpy and rather unlikeable Otto, trusting that the audience will still want to stick with him until they are finally rewarded as the film eventually turns into a heart-warming and touching story.

Hanks’ understated performance captures the character’s gruff exterior and inner turmoil with equal skill. He brings a depth and humanity to the role that is truly impressive, with a perfect balance of humour and pathos.

In the end it is impossible not to be moved by Otto’s journey.

Director Mark Foster certainly knows how to pull your heartstrings (his Finding Neverland was another one of those films which floored me at the time).

I have seen this film twice already and I have to be honest, it got me both times.

The film is a remake of the 2015 Swedish, Oscar-nominated, film A Man Called Ove (itself based on a book from a few years earlier) and follows the beats from the original pretty closely as well as keeping the same tone too, constantly switching from comedy to drama, rather successfully.

It is a film that constantly switches from one extreme to the other: at one moment Hanks is on the verge of suicide (these scenes are always hard to watch, but perfectly calibrated and judged within the film) and a moment later we are treated with hilarious sequences with his new quirky neighbours.

There are some moments of brilliant subtleties, like the way the camera lingers for just enough time for us to register two empty cups of tea, and as Hanks drinks from of them, we feel the emptiness left by his dead wife.

But there are also some undoubtedly corny lines from a script which is at times a bit too on the nose. The story overall is fairly predictable and a bit formulaic too, but despite the calculated schmaltz (which prevents the film from being really great) I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t fallen for it. I laughed, I cried and eventually loved being part of this world, with all those characters (Mariana Treviño is absolutely splendid as Marisol!).

So please, try to check your cynicism at the door and just go with it, I can assure you, you will like this too.

If you missed this in the cinema, you can catch it now on Netflix.