We all have come across difficult people in our lives who are loud, garish, critical, angry, or over-sensitive. They push our buttons and take us away from the pleasures of the present moment. It is not very often that we see in a movie how such a difficult person's heart can be tenderized and transformed. A Man Called Ove is a Swedish dramedy based on the bestselling novel of the same title by Fredrik Backman. It is a quirky film about the harm and misunderstanding that results from our making quick judgments about people.
Ove (Rolf Lassgård) is a genuinely grumpy old man who vents his spleen on all the idiots in the world who don't know what they are doing or, even if they do know, screw things up. Laid off from the company where he has worked for 43 years, Ove keeps watch over the suburban neighborhood where he lives. He used to be head of the residents' association but he was voted out of office for his extreme behavior. He still goes through the motions of patrolling the place and looking for problems.
Every day, Ove visits the grave of his beloved wife Sonja (Ida Engvolle) who died recently of cancer. She was the light of his life and he doesn't want to live without her. So he decides to commit suicide, but he is interrupted during each attempt. Just as he starts to lose consciousness, bits and pieces of his difficult life are revealed and we begin to understand his anger, frustration and loss.
As a motherless boy Ove (Viktor Baagøe) is a lonely seven-year-old kid whose father works for the railroad. With very little money, he learns how to survive. By the time Ove (Filip Berg) meets Sonja, he is ready to expand his life and interests.
In the present, Ove's transformation continues when a new family, immigrants from Iran, moves in next door. The mother, Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), is pregnant and not afraid to ask her neighbor for help. Her lust for life provides the impetus for Ove's breaking out of his shell.
Soon this sad and cranky old man is tapping the love, kindness, and compassion he has always had within himself. We watch with wonder as he saves a man who falls on a train track, lets a homosexual stay with him after the young man's homophobic father banishes him, and adopts a stray cat.
Hannes Holm directs this convincing and emotionally involving story of spiritual transformation. We see step-by-step how an irritating and difficult person is set on a new path. Or as spiritual writers Jeff Zaleski and Tracy Cochran put it: "Something like a seed that cracks open and blooms just when the right pressure is applied."