Sunday 5 November 2023

Movie Review: A Man Called Otto (2022)

Genre: Comedy Drama
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller
Running Time: 126 minutes

Synopsis: Self-appointed neighbourhood overseer Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks) is stern, bitter, depressed, and still traumatized by the loss of his wife Sonya (Rachel Keller, in flashbacks). After his retirement, Otto's determination to kill himself is interrupted by vivacious and pregnant new neighbour Marisol (Mariana Treviño), who moves in across the street. Otto is reluctantly drawn into Marisol's cheerful life with her husband and two daughters, and starts to re-engage with other neighbours. But he remains engulfed in sorrow and resolute in wanting to end his life.

What Works Well: The remake of a Swedish movie is a feel-good, heart-warming tale about overcoming grief by reconnecting with community. Director Marc Forster does not shy away from Otto's dark mental state and desire to stop living, but provides balance through moments of joy lurking beneath the mundane. From a cat seeking a new home to Marisol learning to drive then an encounter with a troubled youth who holds a special connection with Sonya, glimmers of light start to shine into Otto's life. The movie is peppered with sharp humour, and Mariana Treviño is a fearless source of energy as the change catalyst.

What Does Not Work As Well: While not quite miscast, Tom Hanks' nice guy persona struggles to project Otto's grumpiness (Clint Eastwood was more perfectly suited to a similar role in Gran Torino). The film's satisfying but still vanilla taste is confirmed with Otto's linear and predictable progression out of the doldrums, and the running time is longer than it needs to be.

Conclusion: An unapologetically sentimental but still sharply delivered comedy about rediscovering purpose.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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