A Man Called Ove
Swedish comedy-drama has suicide themes, some language.
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A Man Called Ove
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Man Called Ove is an Oscar-nominated Swedish black comedy with themes around suicide, trauma, and loss. It was remade as a Hollywood movie called A Man Called Otto starring Tom Hanks. Ove (Rolf Lassgard) is a bad-tempered widowed man, who is forced to live his life differently upon the arrival of some new neighbors. Despite his antisocial tendencies, Ove repeatedly shows himself to have good in him and a strong desire to do the right thing. This is something he has in common with his new neighbor, Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), an Iranian immigrant. Together and separately, they overcome difficult situations. Ove is suicidal, though, and this overshadows much of what he says and does. There are various scenes where he attempts to take his own life but something always prevents him from doing so. None of these are graphic, but they may be upsetting for some. Accidents cause characters to be permanently injured and, in one case, die from their injuries. In the version with English subtitles, language includes "s--t" and there are a couple of uses of "f--k." Characters also drink and smoke in social settings.
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What's the Story?
A MAN CALLED OVE follows a grumpy, isolated widowed man (Rolf Lassgard) as he learns to deal with his problems and let other people into his life.
Is It Any Good?
Adapted from a book of the same name and remade by Hollywood as A Man Called Otto, this Oscar-nominated Swedish comedy-drama tries to see the lighter side of trying and failing to take your own life. While it's notoriously tricky for some humor to survive translation, Lassgard does a fine job as A Man Called Ove's lead. His delivery of Ove's knee-jerk and self-righteous reactions to the shortcomings of the people and the world around him, make him a genuine crank rather than lovably misunderstood. His bitterness at being deposed as his local community's warden is also a neat satire of how some minds narrow as they get older, and the negative ripple effect of this.
Through a series of flahsbacks we get to compare and contrast Ove as a grumpy senior, a young man in love, and as a child -- all of whom must deal with grief, trauma, and loss in their own ways. All of which helps us understand the man he has become. It's a thoughtful mix that never becomes too maudlin, or lets the modern-day Ove off the hook. A somewhat rushed final act and a couple of storylines that never quite come to life are the only slight disappointments. Fans of the Tom Hanks remake could do worse than revisit this predecessor.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how A Man Called Ove addresses themes around suicidal feelings. Why did Ove feel the way he did? What can you do if you or someone you know is feeling low and depressed? What resources are available to help both kids and adults?
How did the arrival of Parvaneh and her family change Ove and his life? How can the communities we're part of shape who we are? Talk about your own community? What do/don't you like about it?
In what ways did some characters show compassion, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these such important character strengths to have? Can you think of a time when you've displayed these traits?
Talk about the movie's mix of comedy and drama. What parts did you find funny, scary, and sad? Why do filmmakers choose to mix very different tones such as these?
The movie has been remade for English-speaking audiences. Why do movie studios do this? Have you seen both versions? How do they compare?
- In theaters: September 30, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 16, 2017
- Cast: Rolf Lassgard, Bahar Pars, Filip Berg
- Director: Hannes Holm
- Studio: Music Box Films
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Book Characters
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 116 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic content, some disturbing images, and language
- Last updated: February 2, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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Swedish Forrest Gump + caper comedy has violence, language.
It's a Wonderful Life
This classic delivers warmth all year long.
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