If you read Fredrik Backman's best-selling novel you know the storyline. The 59-year-old Ove is the neighborhood grumpy prefect. He was deposed as president of the condominium association several years earlier but doesn’t give a damn and still looks after the neighborhood with an iron fist. When pregnant Parvaneh’s family moves in and drives into Ove's mailbox, it’s the prelude to a funny and heartwarming story of a disheveled cat, unexpected friendship and faithful love. Ove, who has only disdain for just about everyone, is a man who knows right from wrong and how you should always help your fellow man with great accuracy and care.

So much for storyline. As is often the case, the film is a completely different experience from the book. This time it's a good thing since the film definitely carries its own weight. Under Hannes Holm’s direction the pace is slower and the film becomes more drama than comedy. Ove, who’s effectively introduced to the viewer as the neighborhood misanthrope, has a presence and a present existence that is relentlessly gray. Who will miss the man who has been hardened by life into something rigid and chipped? Perhaps no one.
But in more than one near-death moment we get to see his soft human interior: his childhood and the love of his life. The memories of his past come through with strings and tenderness. In sickness and in health.
As a child Ove loses his mother and holds on to his father for as long as he can. The love of his life, Sonja, draws him into a life together that he hardly feels worthy of. She seems almost too good to be true in her undemanding devotion to the stuttering young Ove, but that is just as it should be; this is Ove's recollection of her, and not necessarily reality.


The comedy is present but often more as a smile than a laugh. With knowledge of Sweden there are many things to connect with and perhaps laugh over outside the comedic effects — the cap, the worn and outdated yet well cared for clothes and home, the SAAB and the strong sense of duty Ove represents.

The film manages a balance between the serious and the comedic, and the circumstances and characters are present everywhere, maybe even in our own lives, in ourselves. Just like the book, the film will leave you feeling good without relying on clichés or crowd pleasers. The new neighboring wife is expertly played by Swedish Iranian-born actress Bahar Pars. Her happy and excited interest in Ove feels authentic, never overdone or exaggerated, and the scenes where her children affectionately start to connect with him will bring tears to your eyes.
Ove’s transformation from grumpy old loner to likable, albeit somewhat unwilling do-gooder rings overall true. Lassgård is brilliant as the main character and it’s to his and director Holm’s credits both, how the film succeeds in transforming dark desperate moments in the character’s life into comedic relief in the same scene.
A Man Called Ove is a must-see.
Ulf Barslund Martensson

The theatrical release is on September 30. For more info, see www.musicboxfilms.com/a-man-called-ove-movies-139.php

A Man Called Ove

Written and directed by Hannes Holm
Cinematography: Göran Hallberg
Editing: Fredrik Morheden
Makeup: Eva Von Bahr, Love Larson
Starring: Rolf Lassgård, Filip Berg, Ida Engvoll, Bahar Pars, Tobias Almborg
Production: Annica Bellander, Nicklas Wikst Nicastro
Executive producers: Fredrik Wikstrom, Michael Hjorth

A Music Box Films release
Winner - Audience Award, Best Actor (Rolf Lassgård), Best Make-Up (Love Larson & Eva Von Bahr) - Guldbagge Awards 2016
Opening Night Selection - Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2016
Closing Night Selection - Stony Brook Film Festival 2016
Official Selection - Seattle International Film Festival 2016
Winner Best Actor in Seattle - Rolf Lassgård