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A Man Called Otto (Film Review)

3 min read

American adaptations and remakes often receive a lot of criticism, but thankfully is one of the good ones. Based on the bestselling book as well as the Swedish film of the same name, A Man Called Otto transports us across the Atlantic to America where we meet the grumpy old man named Otto.

plays the loveable grump Otto in this life-affirming film and what an excellent piece of casting it is. Otto Anderson does everything in life in one way- the right way. He does everything by the books. He wakes up in the morning and checks that all the cars on the road have their parking permits displayed- hanging off the rear-view mirror and not anywhere else- he makes sure the recycling is correct- with cans and glass separated- and he makes sure the bikes are all locked up- on the bike rack and nowhere else.

Everyone in the neighbourhood has just accepted that that's just how Otto is, and they can't do anything about it to change him. This all changes when 's pregnant Marisol and her husband Tommy (), along with their two children, move in across the street from Otto.

Treviño's Marisol is the perfect antithesis to Hanks' Otto. She brings him food and tries to introduce herself and her family to Otto when they first move in, but Otto just isn't interested. He wants to be left alone. And slowly but surely Marisol starts to wear him down and we get this joyous relationship between the two.

Sony Pictures

A Man Called Otto delicately balances the trauma and emotion of Otto's past with the joy brought to Otto's present by Marisol and her family. Director blends flashbacks to Otto meeting and falling in love with his wife brilliantly with the present day creating a really fantastic juxtaposition of love with grumpiness.

At times, A Man Called Otto will have you laughing before it immediately switches gears and has you sobbing. But this comedy/drama manages to get the amalgamation of the two just right, never giving you whiplash.

A Man Called Otto manages to be inspiring, and quite possibly the most life-affirming film of the year because of how delicately it treats its subject matter. The film doesn't tip-toe around important issues such as suicide but instead it slowly works up something to say about the matter. And the same goes for gender identity. A Man Called Otto features a transgender who actually has some depth to his character and feels like a natural addition to this story rather than the usual token LGBTQ character we're used to seeing in Hollywood films like these. 

A Man Called Otto has run its course for a little too long by the end and it could have done with another few minutes being shaved off its runtime and there are one or two scenes here and there that lacked a bit of nuance, but ultimately A Man Called Otto is a heart-warming and lovely film to watch. Anchored by excellent performances, with Treviño certainly giving acting icon Tom Hanks a run for his money, A Man Called Otto is sure to leave you with a new love for life.

A Man Called Otto is released in UK cinemas on Friday 6th January 2023.