This film is the first Swedish film I’ve ever seen and it should have won the Oscar last year for Best Makeup and Hair Styling over … SUICIDE SQUAD! (original review)
Synopsis: Based on Fredrik Backman’s beloved novel, Ove is a retired widower and a curmudgeon, keeping a critical eye on his neighbors and their goings on. He’s all but given up on the world, until a new family moves in across the street and an unexpected friendship emerges. (Pacific Northwest Pictures)
Starring: Rolf Lassgård, Bahar Pars, and Filip Berg
Writer: Hannes Holm
Director: Hannes Holm
Running Time: 116mins
Nothing about this story is new as it has been done many times in many films to the different degrees of success. An old, grumpy man who doesn’t get along with people has his gruff exterior worn away through human interaction with others that eventually helps him learn more about himself. This more or less was the case here but was better than most.
Ove (Lassgård), was a grumpy old man who liked to make the lives of his neighbors miserable. This gruff exterior came from a position of immense hurt. After losing his wife, Sonja (Ida Engvoll), to cancer, Ove was done with life and wanting to be with Sonja again. Because of this, he attempted suicide several times but he always managed to fail for whatever reason. Things began to chance for him once a new family moved next door and he developed a relationship with the young mother named Parvaneh (Pars).
Through flashbacks, we learn more about Ove’s life and tragedies he has had to face as well as how his relationship with Sonja came to be. They were weaved into the main plot and instead of being melodramatic, they spoke to Ove’s current state of mind. Over time we learned more and more about him but we had to wait until near the end to learn the whole truth. Over this time, he was also reminded of the kind of person Sonja was and what she meant to the people around her. He was very protective of her memory and was uncomfortable with people talking to him about her. Despite how he felt about others, it was hard not to continue his wife’s mission to help people in need.
This led to some fun interactions between him and various other people in his neighborhood. The film greatly used comedy during serious moments but also appeared in lighter moments as Ove being an old man trying to understand the current times. He always helped people but instead of doing so begrudgingly so they would leave him alone, he became more and more open to it. It was this that paved the way for his relationship with Parvaneh. Time with her and her family gave him a reason to live with the family he could never have.
This was a beautiful film to watch, especially during the flashback sequences, seeing the life Ove lived. The cinematography and the set design were both well done. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Makeup & Hairstyling and it was easy to see why. The makeup used for Ove helped to portray the many levels of grief within him. It elevated Lassgård’s subtle, restrained performance as Ove, portraying his range of emotions from his facial expressions. He could say so much while saying so little. Ove was a very likable character as it was easy to relate to him and his position. He had great chemistry with Pars and they were fun to watch together. They seemed to bring out the best of one another.
Overall, this was a great exploration of one’s guilt and being able to overcome it. Although it was a familiar story, it was made better by Rolf Lassgård’s captivating performance.