By Lynn Venhaus
A heart-tugging story about love, loss, life, and friendship, “A Man Called Otto” has much to say about seeing the world differently through other people’s eyes, and what your ‘found’ family means in your life.
Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks) 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 (Mariana Trevino), leading to a friendship that will turn his world around.
The film is based on the bestselling 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove,” written by Fredrik Backman, which was made into a 2015 Swedish of the same name by Hannes Holm.
Tom Hanks is a handful here. The neighborhood crank that can’t be bothered by social graces. He’s downright glacier. But there is more to his story here, and thankfully, we go along for the ride.
With a terrific supporting cast – Mariana Trevino is the MVP of this journey, and she’s a force of nature as the kind neighbor Marisol. Without her as a counterpart, this would be a difficult, one-note story, for the story centers on a man who wants to end his life.
His soul mate, Sonya (a lovely Rachel Keller in flashback) has passed on after a tough setback, and numerous sorrows, and he’s retired from his engineering job of 40 years. But, with divine intervention, his attempts are interrupted by people who care.
People needing people – what is wrong with a theme like that? I’ll take sentimental over harshness any day.
Without giving too much away, Otto relents. He thaws, he helps people, and he’s the better for it.
With some much-needed humor, the film rewards us. So, it may not be ground-breaking, but it’s a crowd-pleasing, feel-good movie. And I’d say we need this right about now.
“A Man Called Otto” is a 2022 drama directed by Marc Forster and starring Tom Hanks, Truman Hanks, Mariana Trevino, Rachel Keller and Mike Birbiglia. Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language, it runs 2 hours, 6 minutes. It opened in local theatres Jan. 6. Lynn’s Grade: B+
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.