Hannes Holm’s “A Man Called Ove” (En man som heter Ove), Sweden’s submission for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film nomination, is already one of that small country’s highest-grossing locally produced films of all time. Based on an international bestseller by Fredrik Backman, Holm’s eighth feature is a beguiling portrait of a fifty-nine-year-old cranky curmudgeon, a widower who lives down the block, Ove (Rolf Lassgard, the original “Wallender”). Holm says “pure stupidity” led him to the project, with “the gigantic risk of making a spectacular failure.” Such genial modesty serves the deftly directed project well: “Ove” is a rare spiteful-curmudgeon-meets-new-neighbors fable that finds the measure of spite and sugar. (The tagline “Misery Hates Company” is pretty good, too.) With Filip Berg, Ida Engvoll, Bahar Pars, Tobias Almborg, Klas Wiljergard, Borje Lundberg. Distributor Music Box Films’ successful prior Swedish imports include “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window And Disappeared.” 116m. 2.35 widescreen. (Ray Pride)
“A Man Called Ove” opens Friday, September 30 at Landmark Century, Renaissance Place and Century 12 Evanston.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.