Scandinavia always surprises us with different movies and with very peculiar story lines. Based on the bestseller book by Fredrik Backman, En Man som Heter Ove (original title), or A Man Called Ove (in English), tells the story of Ove, an old grumpy widower, 59 year old, who despite having been deposed some years before as president of the residents association continues to watch over his suburban neighborhood with an iron fist. Depressed, lonely and tired of the monotony of everyday life, Ove is a picture of a person who has given up everything, including himself. Stubborn, moody, with firm beliefs and rigid routines, his approach to life and negative view of the world are put to the test when a new family moves into the house across the street.
To talk about old age and its dilemmas has never been an easy task, both in real life and on the big screen. Sometimes it seems that society wants to avoid or forget it, as if it was a distant drama to which we will never live or witness. Thus, it is common that actors with advanced age only interpret supporting characters, with roles that are far from the narrative's focus. However, when they had the opportunity to star in the leading role, they gave birth to great characters and great films. Among them are: Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), Umberto D. (1952), Ikiru - To Live (1952), Smultronstället - Wild Strawberries (1957), Cocoon (1985), Börn Náttúrunnar - Children of Nature (1991), Grumpy Old Men (1993), The Straight Story (1999), Elsa y Fred - Elsa & Fred (2005), Gran Torino (2008), Amour (2012), Nebraska (2013), 45 Years (2015) and the animation Up (2009).
With a sincere, poetic and humorous story, the Swedish writer- director Hannes Holm (known for Adam & Eve - 1999, Klassfesten - The Reunion - 2002 and Himlen är Oskyldigt Blå - Behind Blue Skies - 2010) addresses a sensitive issue in a subtle way. Humor is one of the key parts used in the process, being present at various times throughout the film. But we are also exposed to sad and tough situations as the story unfolds.
The action takes place both in the present and in the past. At first we are introduced to the older version of Ove, played by Rolf Lassgård (known for Jägarna - The Hunters - 1996, Under Solen - Under the Sun - 1998 and Efter brylluppet - After the Wedding - 2006). From the first impressions we encounter a guy who is rough, irritating, without kindness and also is the terror of his suburban neighborhood. He daily patrol the streets and sidewalks in search for irregularities and breaches of rules, which must be followed rigorously. Subsequently, through the use of flashbacks, we are introduced to his child version (Viktor Baagøe) and younger version (Filip Berg, known for Ondskan - Evil - 2003 and Odödliga - Eternal Summer - 2015). Thus, gradually, his past is revealed, explaining his current behavior, which makes us reflect and reassess our views on the main character.
The film deals with current concepts and issues such as immigration, globalization and changing values over generations. Parvaneh, played by Bahar Pars (she acted in När Mörkret Faller - When Darkness Falls - 2006), has Persian origin and is the woman of the family who moves into the house in front of the protagonist. Contrasting with Ove's personality, she is passionate and opinionated, being responsible for bringing heat to the protagonist's cold relations. Parvaneh portrays the case of so many other refugees who emigrate to European countries in search of a better life.
The identification of the main character with the cars of Saab and the consequent dispute with the cars of Volvo, originally two Swedish brands, represents the nationalism. Ove was from a time when the products (consumer goods) were made within the country. Today, with global value chains and the internationalization of the economy, the goods have no borders and brands have become global. Half of Saab was bought by General Motors in 1990 and the remainder in 2000. In 2012 the company was purchased by China National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB. As for Volvo, in 1999 it was sold to Ford Motor Company. In 2010, Ford agreed to sell Volvo to the Chinese Zhejiang Geely Holdin Group.
Ove, as a small-town boy, lived in a different type of Sweden and world. Life had a slower pace and independence and manual skills, such as carpentry and mechanics, were more valued. The difficulties of the younger generation are expressed, for example, in the lack of interest and patience to read manuals or in how a simple installation of a washing machine becomes a challenge.
Apart from the excellent performance of Rolf Lassgård in the protagonist's caricatured role, the soundtrack is a treat apart. Engaging, it is captivating in the patrol's moments through the neighborhood and it's sentimental in the drama scenes. All the production work was very well done, from the cameras, photography, to the costume through the ages. Here we have to highlight a weak point in the script and direction. Although the first half of the film is great, as the story develops and its message and meaning are revealed, the director hastens to complete the book's plot and the movie loses some of its strengths in the second half. Some narrative links should have been better developed, as the change experienced by the main character and how the local community see him after that. As a final message Holm points out that life makes more sense when is shared with others. The film had potential to be much more than it was.
Originally posted in: https://vikingbyheart.blogspot.com.br
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