wed 21/08/2019

DVD/Blu-ray: A Man Called Ove | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: A Man Called Ove

DVD/Blu-ray: A Man Called Ove

Neither Scandi noir nor IKEA fantasia: an endearing Swedish black comedy about a grumpy old man

Bahar Pars determined to get a smile out of Rolf Lassgård

It takes a while to get going, and doesn’t altogether evade sentimentality but overall this black comedy is hugely endearing. Rolf Lassgård (complete with bald cap) plays Ove. He's a depressed and resentful 60-year-old widower who can’t see any point in life without his beloved wife, especially since he's been made redundant from his job as an engineer. His suicide attempts are thwarted by poor quality materials and a rag-bag collection of neighbours.

Flashbacks to Ove's childhood and courtship are beautifully done, but it’s the portrait of Swedish small-town life that intrigues. This isn’t the hipster noir of the big cities familiar from TV thrillers, nor the relentlessly chirpy utopia of the IKEA catalogue. Ove lives on a drab housing estate with strict rules – many of which he originated as the residents' association chairman. He’s a classic curmudgeon ticking off dog owners and careless drivers alike, but at the same time he hates the "white shirts" – the officious bureaucrats whom he views as opportunistic bastards only interested in money. Imagine a Swedish live-action version of the Pixar animated feature Up and you'll get the idea (though it's best not to expect balloons). Befriended by a determined new neighbour, pregnant Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her husband and children, his attitudes slowly begin to soften.

A Man Called OveBased on a hugely popular novel, director Hannes Holm has done a good job fusing social drama and gentle comedy, very much in the vein of My Life as a Dog. There’s a touch of underlying Scandi smugness about how well the country copes with immigrants, but the skirmishes over the relative merits of Saabs or Volvos and a subplot involving a very dishevelled cat win the day (said feline, pictured right). Nominated for two Oscars, A Man Called Ove is set for a remake in America with Tom Hanks in the lead.

This edition comes with a Q&A session from a festival screening in New York, make-up special effects tutorial, and an edited featurette with interviews with the director and the two lead actors. Bahar Pars is particularly good on the dilemmas she faced by effectively becoming the screen representative of Sweden’s large Iranian migrant community. 


Overleaf: watch the trailer for A Man Called Ove

There’s a touch of underlying Scandi smugness about how well the country copes with immigrants


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters