Reviews: Review of “A Grumpy Neighbor” (“A Man Called Otto”), by Marc Forster, with Tom Hanks

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Director of Life Change (Monster’s Ball), Discovering Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction, Comets in the Sky, 007 Quantum of Solace, World War Z Y Christopher Robin: An Unforgettable Reunion He filmed an uplifting and instructive tragicomedy conceived of pure stereotype and no subtlety.

A grumpy neighbor (A Man Called Otto, United States/2022). Directed by: Marc Forster. Cast: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Truman Hanks, Mike Birbiglia and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. Screenplay: David Magee, based on the novel A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman; and in the film A Man Called Ove, by Hannes Holm. Photography: Mathuas Koenigswieser. Editing: Matt Chessé. Music: Thomas Newman. Distributor: UIP (Sony). Duration: 126 minutes. Suitable for over 16 years.

At the end of 2015, a Swedish tragicomedy titled A man named Ove (transposition of a novel published in 2012 by Fredrik Backman), which became a global success and ended up getting two Oscar nominations. It was not surprising, then, that Hollywood took the concept for a remake that Tom Hanks decided not only to star in but also to co-produce with his wife Rita Wilson.

Otto Anderson (Hanks) is the grumpy neighbor in the Spanish title (the original is A Man Called Otto), a widower who always lives angry and whose only objective seems to be to criticize, judge, despise others, complain and get irritated by every attitude or gesture that he considers inappropriate. The level of obsession, control and repression of him is clearly pathological.

Determined to end his life, which is meaningless, our perfect antihero will run into a couple of Latin origin (Mariana Treviño and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and their children, who move to the same neighborhood. His new neighbors are his opposite of him (complementary?): Cheerful, friendly, chaotic, unprejudiced, innocent, clumsy, well-intentioned.

Raised the antithetical conflict, with stereotyped characters taken to extremes, the German director Marc Forster only has to cover this story with an instructive and inspiring vein. From multiple flashbacks we will understand why this emulator of the Walt Kowalski that Clint Eastwood played in the much higher grand torino he became the resentful and traumatized man that he is. And, between cheesy ballads in the background, dialogues and always explicit actions, we will see how this tough, sad man dominated by hatred will gradually open his heart and find paths of redemption.

The film (formula) is proposed as a cross between two concepts handled by the audiovisual industry as the crowdpleaser (with a certain demagogy to win the favor of the public) and the tearjerker (with melodramatic excesses that range from surprisingly generous attitudes to heartbreaking confessions, going through “heartfelt” letters that seek to generate emotional tears from the viewer). It may then be that there is a segment of the audience willing to be carried away by these stimuli, but the questions about the film are not based on a cynical or insensitive look, but rather on the manipulative and not very subtle resources with which the artists built this well-intentioned moral.


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Reviews: Review of “A Grumpy Neighbor” (“A Man Called Otto”), by Marc Forster, with Tom Hanks