Thursday, 16 February 2017

REVIEW - A MAN CALLED OVE (HANNES HOLM)


Even Scandinavia's comedies are well-organized. Walking a well-trodden path square in the middle of humour and pathos, A Man Called Ove has its tonal and narrative destination in sight right from the start, and stays true to its intentions throughout. Hannes Holm's faithfulness to his vision is commendable, though that vision itself is less so, and one might wish he'd seen fit to deviate from it here and there. Order is all very appealing, and Holm certainly knows how to put together a solid piece of work, but predictability is not, and it's in settling into such a comfortable mould that A Man Called Ove chips away at its modest appeal. Such is the security of Holm's guidance that it rapidly begins to feel too forceful for its own good, and it becomes especially enervating when one experiences a flash of the prescribed emotion before instantly clocking the machinations that led one to that experience. It's blatant manipulation - excessively blatant, indeed, since this is a story that needed not to indulge in such unnecessary over-development. Delicate direction and a charming empathy mitigate the slight preciousness to craft a most engaging, entertaining film at its best, blessed with fine performances and attractive production values (though the score is a gobsmacking rip-off). The whole enterprise chugs along smoothly, which needn't be to the film's detriment and often isn't - rough edges are evidently not Holm's trade, though exploiting the rigour of his approach to emphasize the contradictions and complications that are unavoidable in real life is far preferable to resigning to easy, simplistic solutions. A Man Called Ove stays both fortunately and unfortunately true to itself regardless of its best interests, and is all the more mediocre for it.