May 27, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Film Review: A Man Called Otto

FILM REVIEW
A MAN CALLED OTTO
Rated PG-13
126 Minutes
Released January 13th

A Man Called Otto is based on the Swedish film, A Man Ove, winner of two Academy Awards in 2015. I saw that film, which was a touching story. I would counter some critics who have described Tom Hanks’ character in the 2022 film as too angry, with the argument that it is deeply ingrained in Swedish culture to look honestly at the roots of depression and gloom with which we humans struggle. Those critics don’t understand the style or the emotional language. If you want an example, watch some films of the legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.

In A Man Called Otto, director Marc Forster and writer David Magee have created an uplifting story about the classic “grumpy old man” who transitions from loss to love through friendship, community and communication. From first appearing as an extremely embittered soul, Otto’s changing personality is revealed in hints a drop at a time throughout the narrative. Tom Hanks does a masterful job at showing the nuances in Otto’s transformation. 

Forster has directed an eclectic variety of films, including Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland (written by Magee,) Christopher Robin and the hugely popular Bond film Quantum of Solace. Aside from the years of expertise that Hanks and Forster bring to the table, this movie is really carried by its perfectly selected ensemble cast.

Casting directors Francine Maisler and Molly Rose assembled an extraordinary group of actors to play Otto’s colorful and quirky neighbors. They auditioned up and coming actors rather than negotiating pay for names that would draw box office. Each character is memorable and identifiable, and they work together like a well-tuned orchestra of humanity to deliver star performances, including the cat!

Mariana Trevino as new neighbor “Marisol” is the sunshine of the film, and no matter how hard Otto tries to cover her rays with clouds, it’s not happening. The actress nails this role. If you did not grow up in a Mexican family, you may not recognize Trevino at all. Her skilled performance is the product of many years of focus, training, and work in Mexican theatre, film and TV. She grew up in Monterey, Mexico, and always knew she wanted to be on stage. She studied contemporary dance at the National institute of Fine Arts, and Acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, and at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and English Language and Literature. She worked as an actor in Spain and South Africa. Trevino logged over 1000 performances in the musical “Mentiras” in Mexico and starred in two Mexican Netflix series. Of her acting career, she notes, “Now it comes naturally because there is a lot of work behind it.” To her audience, it will look so easy. 

Trevino was alone in a hotel in Spain during the pandemic when she received the invitation to audition for this film. She felt isolated and depressed but persevered. Since she had no one to read the scenes with her, she set up her phone on “record” and played all the multiple roles in the scenes herself. Forster was blown away. Another actor in the ensemble also delivers an impressive performance, trans actor Mack Bayda as “Malcolm.”

The inspiration of this heartwarming film is best summarized by Trevino. Otto is at first enraged that a raucous Latin American family has moved in across the street. About her vibrant, indomitable character’s relationship with Otto, she says, “It’s beautiful to honor and to understand that we’ve enriched each other…the movie is about family and about finding family if you don’t have one.” Watching A Man Called Otto, you won’t even notice that prejudice is being addressed because it’s done in graceful and understated way. This movie will embed itself in your memory.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.  She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com

Related Posts

Film Review: Poolman

May 21, 2024

May 21, 2024

FILM REVIEWPOOLMANRated R199 MinutesReleased May 10th This movie is not about a man who cleans pools. There is only one...

Sundance Film Review: DIG! XX

January 26, 2024

January 26, 2024

DIG! XX is the reconceptualized version of one of the most celebrated rock documentaries ever made, DIG!. It is the...

Film Review: A Haunting in Venice

October 3, 2023

October 3, 2023

FILM REVIEWA HAUNTING IN VENICERated PG-13103 MinutesReleased September 15th A Haunting in Venice is the third film adaptation by director...

Film Review: Amerikatsi

September 26, 2023

September 26, 2023

FILM REVIEWAmerikatsiUnrated117 MinutesReleased September 8, 2023 A storyline predominantly based on voyeurism is not a new cinematic concept, and here...

Film Review: Gran Turismo

September 7, 2023

September 7, 2023

FILM REVIEWGRAN TURISMORated PG-13135 MinutesReleased August 25th “I would say I’m obsessed with cars,” says Neil Blomkamp, director of the...

Film Review: Blue Beetle

August 24, 2023

August 24, 2023

FILM REVIEWBLUE BEETLERated PG-13127 MinutesReleased August 18th “Whatever you can imagine, I can create,” is a line spoken by the...

Film Review: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

July 19, 2023

July 19, 2023

FILM REVIEWMISSION IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONERated PG-13163 MinutesReleased July 11th The story in this “Mission: Impossible” chapter, “Dead...

Film Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

July 5, 2023

July 5, 2023

FILM REVIEWINDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINYRated PG-13154 MinutesReleased June 30th The director of Indiana Jones and the Dial...

Film Review: Past Lives

June 27, 2023

June 27, 2023

FILM REVIEWPAST LIVESRated PG-13105 MinutesLimited Releases June 2nd and June 9th, Full Release June 23rd The Korean concept of “In...

Film Review: Sanctuary

June 8, 2023

June 8, 2023

FILM REVIEWSANCTUARYRated R96 MinutesReleased May 19th In my humble estimation, this is one of the best movies of the year....

Film Review: The Little Mermaid

June 2, 2023

June 2, 2023

FILM REVIEWTHE LITTLE MERMAIDRated PG135 MinutesReleased May 26th With today’s technological developments, a live-action The Little Mermaid is not only...

A Riveting Revival of the Pulitzer Prize-Winning “A Soldier’s Play” Now Playing At The Ahmanson Theatre

May 31, 2023

May 31, 2023

On Stage With… Murder mysteries, whether cinematic or theatrical, are one of the most popular subjects. The list is quite...

Film Review: “Fast X”

May 26, 2023

May 26, 2023

FILM REVIEWFAST XRated PG-13141 MinutesReleased May 19th Fast X feels like producers sent an elite line-up of action superstars, mostly...

Film Review: “Big George Foreman”

May 24, 2023

May 24, 2023

FILM REVIEWBIG GEORGE FOREMANRated PG-13133 MinutesReleased April 28th In this film about a celebrated boxer who was born into poverty,...

FILM REVIEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 3

May 18, 2023

May 18, 2023

By Kathryn Boole  FILM REVIEWGUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 3Rated PG-13150 MinutesReleased May 5th After seeing Guardians of the Galaxy...