A beautiful love story and a commentary on the current times, A Man Called Otto makes for an uplifting and life affirming watch : The Tribune India

A beautiful love story and a commentary on the current times, A Man Called Otto makes for an uplifting and life affirming watch

A beautiful love story and a commentary on the current times, A Man Called Otto makes for an uplifting and life affirming watch

A Man Called Otto

Film: A Man Called Otto

Director: Marc Forster

Cast: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Truman Hanks, Mike Birbiglia


Otto Anderson is a lonely old man, stickler for rules, has zero patience for idiots and is really bad, like really, really bad at dying. He lived a beautiful life with his wife Sonya. Now that workdays are over and his wife gone, he is ready to join her. So, the gas connection is closed, as is the telephone, rope bought and noose perfected. Just as he is about to hold hand of his beloved wife...well, there is divine intervention!

Tom Hanks steps into the shoes of Otto in this Marc Forster directorial, which is based on a Swedish book A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and a Swedish film by the same name by Hannes Holm. Otto is a man in love with the world, has lived well, and is ready to leave, for good. But trust the new neighbour, loving and blabbering Marisol (Mariana Treviño) and her rather nitwit husband Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) – the renters to move in the house opposite his in Birchwood, Pennsylvania - pausing his perfect plan. Just as persistent Otto keeps trying, the new needy neighbours keep disrupting him. In come in sub-plots – condos ruining the forests, making everyone go crazy as Otto believes. Marc Forster, known for Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction and Quantum of Solace, weaves this story beautifully. Trust Tom to make us fall in love with Otto. A beautifully written character, socially awkward, bit of simpleton, much like Forrest, grows on you. As mean and angry as he comes across, the flash back to his bookish love story with Sonya (Rachel Keller) makes you feel for him. Given one has loved Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail or Forrest Gump, as Otto once again he makes a rather ordinary character memorable. His aggressive body language as the Dye & Merika Rep pulls over to how he communicates with a cat, first asking it to hop into the box to actually gesturing it, or pats self on the back, he has one in splits. In Marisoll, Mariana Treviño acts as the perfect foil, she is as persistent, as adamant and as inventive as Otto. Even in front of Hanks, Treviño holds her ground and delivers a superb performance, making the most of her character, which is a wee bit stereotypical.

Their neighbours Anita and Reuben (Juanita Jennings and Peter Lawson Jones, respectively), Jimmy (Cameron Britton) and newspaper person Malcolm (Mack Bayda) fill this lane with possibilities. Hanks’ son Truman as young awkward Otto, and Rachel Keller as Sonya, deliver a beautiful, young romance.

With due credit to the Swedish book and the film, Forster builds a world where each character, every dialogue is part of this big heart melting comedy-drama. An endearing love story, deep friendship, man-nature conflict to issues of identity, all are in perfect sync. Music by Thomas Newman heightens the poignancy of a bond that continues to live on. Cinematography by Matthias Koenigswieser, paints the rather unassuming street to natural beauty of the landscape pretty well. It’s the dialogues, simple yet heartfelt, that move you. Ingenious screenplay by David Magee makes you burst out laughing in the middle of tears.

As deep it is a love story, so is it a commentary on the current times. A gentle reminder on whatever be the circumstances to let the life in, A Man Called Otto is another film for Hanks fans, who continues to win with his extraordinarily touching human stories.