A Man Called Ove is the latest entry in the overloaded category of films (and novels) about grumpy Scandinavian men. Ove is understandably depressed about losing his beloved wife to cancer and being fired from his job with the railroad after 43 years. He just wants to die and join his wife in the afterlife. He keeps trying to commit suicide, but he’s not good at it. When the rope he uses to try to hang himself breaks, he brings it back to the store where he bought it and berates the staff for selling him a defective product. Meanwhile, he keeps himself occupied by patrolling his neighborhood and snarling at everyone for the most minor infractions, like putting trash in the wrong recycling bin.
Inevitably, according to the rules of the Grumpy Scandinavian genre, his misanthropy is broken down, in Ove’s case by a pregnant Iranian woman who has just moved in across the street with her husband and two daughters.
As cliché-ridden as A Man Called Ove is, director Hannes Holm does make unusually effective use of flashbacks to explain Ove’s story without interfering with the flow of the narrative.
A Man Called Ove is also nominated in the Oscar’s Makeup and Hair Styling category. This is the second year in a row that makeup artists Eva Von Bahr and Love Larson have snatched one of the three Academy Award nominations in this category. Excuse me for being cynical, but something funny is going on the Academy’s Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch.