A Man Called Ove

To paraphrase the theme of Mash, suicide may be painless, but it is life that brings on many changes.

a-man-called-oveA Swedish film in sub-titles, A Man Called Ove is a film that will charm you while repeatedly bringing you to the edge of tears. While we all know that death waits for us around some unknown corner, how do we embrace the value of life without succumbing to anger and bitterness?

Rolf Lassgard plays Ove, an aging widower who has given up on life. While he visits his wife’s grave daily, he infuriates residents of his regulated neighborhood by arbitrarily enforcing neighborhood rules that are all but ignored. He is a bitter and angry old man, and he pursues a series of misguided attempts to commit suicide in his home.

Director Hannes Holm centers his film on the simple fact that life will not end well for anyone. You watch flashbacks of Ove as a young man watching his beloved father killed by a train after being joyfully distracted while reading his son’s sensational grades from school. Subsequently, while he is on a vacation tour through Spain with his very pregnant wife Sonja, she ends up being confined to a wheelchair following an horrific vehicular crash. Sonja, played with warmth by Ida Engvol, does her best to recover even though she and Ove know that they will never be parents.

Following her subsequent death from cancer and Ove’s mutation into a joyless human being, he slowly finds a reason to live when a family moves in next door. In particular, the mother is an Iranian immigrant named Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), and Ove’s exposure to her sense of humor allows him to rediscover that life is worth living. In addition, her two energetic kids find a way to soften Ove’s hardened heart.

As I sat entranced through this fine film, I couldn’t help but relive my fondness for having pets in our home. Though Mo and I had to watch three beloved little spuds put to sleep over the past several years, that has not stopped us from bringing other rescue dogs into our home. Despite the agony of watching these little creatures eventually meet the end of life’s road, one of the rewards in life is giving them a caring existence during their short time on this planet.

Ove gradually realized that this same feeling about pets applies to humans. (Spoiler Alert) I was left fighting back tears when Ove was found by a crying Parvaneh dead in his bed with the fluffy little cat that he had befriended lying on his stomach.

This film has many strengths, not the least of which is Ove beginning and ending each day with thoughts of his departed wife. There is a significant scene involving the moment that Ove met Sonja on a train, first noticing the shoes she was wearing. He never forgot that moment, and all of you will remember the significance of falling in love.