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A Man Called Otto - Review

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

Based on the bestselling novel and a remake of the Swedish two-time Oscar nominee, A Man

Called Ove, Tom Hanks stars as our protagonist, Otto, a recent widower and neighbourhood

grump. A Man Called Otto feeds into an audience's thirst for stories of a community Grinch

being embraced and more involved with their community or specifically in this case, his


We all know Tom Hanks and what he offers but it could be argued that this casting choice could

be tough for a viewer to believe when you watch him berate his locality for not following

neighbourhood protocol and being idiots, not to mention the quadruple suicide attempts. I think

what makes the difference for me, is the way the character reacts to his failed attempts at

joining his wife in the afterlife and I speak from a perspective of cynicism in the lead-up to

watching this film. Hanks provided personality and his flair that we’ve come to know over the

past few decades, giving the film an easier feel to watch and not just a cash-grab for Sony

knowing the storyline would be easy to swallow. A notable performance from Mariana Treviño

provides relief as Marisol from Otto’s grouchiness within the neighbourhood as her character is

warm and uplifting and makes sense as the key to unlocking Otto’s life.

The use of flashbacks provides the much-needed context that we need to prove that Otto is

human but coupled with the use of music can seem quite formulaic and can feel cheesy but

when you consider what the film is trying to provide to the viewer, you ease off from trying to


The director, Marc Foster, has had a range of genre that he has fulfilled over the years. I didn’t

believe at first that this was the same filmmaker who directed World War Z, Machine Gun

Preacher, Quantum of Solace and Monster’s Ball. Then it makes sense when you consider his

other films with Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction and more recently Christopher Robin.

Having range is never a bad thing and it was quite refreshing for me not to have a grievance

about any of the performances from any of the actors which leads me to saying that the

German-born director did well in his part for the project.

Would I watch the film again? No. I enjoyed it in the moment and the project did what Sony

wanted it to do. If anything, it made me want to watch what the film was based on and also

reminded me that I missed out on the release of Living, based on Kurosawa’s Ikuru. If you want

to watch something similar to A Man Called Otto, but with more flair and grit, I’d recommend

Gran Torino.

~ By Armaan Habib

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