Movie Review: “A Man Named Otto”

Tom Hanks produced and stars in “A Man Called Otto,” an ultimately life-affirming dramedy that deals with suicidal ideation. Adapted from Fredrik Backman’s best-selling book and the Academy Award-nominated 2016 Swedish film “A Man Called Ove”. It centers on a man named Otto, played by Tom Hanks, the epitome of the cranky “get off my lawn” type, who wants to end his life as a matter of efficiency. It was first announced in 2017 that Hanks would star in an adaptation of “A Man Called Ove” and produce it with Rita Wilson, his wife, and Fredrik Wikstrom Nicastro of SF Studios.

Hank’ past Academy Award was his portrayal of Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the NeighborHood”. This was filmed in Pittsburgh, 2019 as was “A Man Named Otto”. In “A Man Called Otto,” Hanks plays the loner Otto Anderson, who is set in his ways and annoyed by everything.

Otto is a moody and not a sociable guy, an isolated widower that carries a grief by not letting people have empathy or kindness, has strict routines and a short fuse, who gives everyone in his neighborhood a hard time as he watches over it like a hawk. Seeming suicidal and a reluctant friendship develops with his new neighbors. I was amazed at how this movie is the same as how I feel about friendships, and acts of kindness will affect those around us.

“When I first read Fredrik Backman’s novel, I fell in love with the notion that friendship has the power to shape a person’s life”, director Marc Foster told Deadline earlier this year. “I can’t wait to create a film with so much humor and heart alongside Tom and Rita.”

This movie exemplifies how people’s lives can be turned round by accidental interactions with others. A man appears to be depressed and easily annoyed by people that he meets around him. These encounters slowly evolve consistent exposure to others, each not really knowing how the other has affected each other.

I personally notice dramatic changes in how these inconsistent meetings of human beings can affect another. I found it’s noticeable that many attempts, out of genuine kindness, are reciprocated and they did not seem to affect those offers, just out of kindness. I am emotionally affected by these random acts of kindness and how it is slowly affecting this one individual’s attitude towards his own vulnerability.

At the core of this film is a simple message—small acts of kindness can have a dramatic impact. Throughout the film, you see how meaningful unplanned and inconsistent interactions between people can be. One act of kindness from the new neighbor is when she on a daily basis brings Otto a meal originating from her culture, which he eats and is amazed at how great it tastes. This shows how continuous small acts of kindness can affect one’s stubborness can be softened. Hanks does a good job of demonstrating the character’s attitude toward his own vulnerability.

My favorite scene is where Otto is in the hospital and the doctor says that Otto has a big heart, and his neighbor starts hysterically laughing, as Otto is awake and has a grin.

The film hits on the simple benefit of human kindness in a world that can feel lonely. In some cases, individuals may choose to keep to themselves and in other cases, they may be pushed to the side. Either way, this film seems to resonate with you in that it shows how even the most reclusive and disgruntled of people can be significantly impacted by small and random acts that require little effort from the people who offer them. This film in the first week made over a million dollars, qualifying it as a top rated movie.