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A Man Called Ove

A former colleague has been singing the praises of this runaway hit from Sweden. I was so happy to see "En man som heter Ove" (English captions) on the press-screening roster for the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival. That Swede is also the sharp-eyed fellow who spotted "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared," another Swedish comedy which was a major hit with SIFF two years ago.

This award-winning comedy from Sweden and Norway is based on the bestselling novel by Fredrik Backman and adapted for the screen by writer/director Hannes Holm. This delightful romp is about a crotchety old coot who is the neighborhood curmudgeon; he still serves as president of his homeowners' association despite the fact that he was voted out several years ago. He has one single goal in mind, but seems to be thwarted at every turn... 

Now some new people are moving in. The first thing they do is knock down his mailbox because they don't know how to back up a vehicle with a trailer attached. And a car with some despised "White shirts" (bureaucrats) keeps defying his "no vehicles" rule. And a stray cat refuses to be run off. And his former best friend may be taken to a nursing home. And the new neighbor borrows his ladder. And...and...and... The plot is nicely complex and the humor is strictly character driven. I have rarely heard a SIFF audience laugh so heartily.

The cast:
  • Rolf LassgÃ¥rd is Ove, our eponymous grouch, still running the neighborhood with an iron fist. He patrols it every morning.
  • Bahar Pars - Parvenah is the lovely new (pregnant) neighbor involved in that mailbox.
  • Filip Berg plays the young Ove. As we watch flashbacks of his childhood we can see where this grumpiness comes from! (But Willie Nelson sings "You Are Always on My Mind," so it's fine by me.)
  • Ida Engvoll - The lovely Sonja has strong opinions, too! She leaves a long trail of happy students and neighbors who still miss her.
As tensions mount, we see flashback after flashback which clarifies our view on the current situation. This has a whole neighborhood full of people to root for, plenty of laughs, some grief, and a nice opinion of a man who visits his beloved wife's grave every day. Many SIFF members are geared to more artistic tribulations, but a lot of us left the theater with a big smile on our faces.