My fellow book lovers will understand when I say hearing the news that one of your favorite books is going to be made into a film can lead to some mixed emotions. On one hand, you’re excited to know a story you’ve fallen in love with will be shared with even more people and that the author is seeing increased success and acclaim. On the other hand, you’re likely worried that the filmmakers will change everything you loved about the original and the end result will be, as are so many adaptations, a pale shadow of the original work. I’ll be the first to admit that I felt exactly this way when I heard that Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove was going to Hollywood. Yes, it was going to star one of my favorite actors, Tom Hanks, in the lead role but they were also moving the story from Sweden to the US and CHANGING THE MAIN CHARACTER’S NAME?! Talk about a book nerd panic attack!
Then the trailers and clips started to come out. Backman began to talk about the thought and care that was going into the production. The song–the song was released (if you haven’t listened to it, it’s lovely) and I started to get my hopes up that this was going to be something, if not brilliant, at least not a disappointment. Well today I saw the film and I can very happily say I was wrong. A Man Called Otto is so more more than “not a disappointment” it’s one of the best page to screen adaptations I’ve seen in ages and one of the best movies I’ve seen full stop.
Everything about the film was spot on. Hanks’ Otto was true to the spirit of Backman’s Ove, a mix of curmudgeon and softie, you can’t help but love him. Mariana Treviño is simply wonderful as Marisol. She and Hanks have perfect timing and chemistry and give book readers exactly what they’d expect from Ove and Parvaneh brought to life. I don’t want to give too much away so I’m just going to say that like the book and the original Swedish film, A Man Called Otto is a story you need to make the time for–just don’t forget to bring tissues like I did. The napkins in the theater are a little scratchy and you’ll need something to catch those tears.