On January 12, a new tape with Tom Hanks “A Man Named Otto” appeared in Ukrainian cinema distribution. This is already the second adaptation on the big screen of the Swedish writer Frederik Buckman’s book “A Man Named Uwe”, which was created by the director of “Christopher Robin”, “World War Z” and “007: Quantum of Mercy”. In this review, you will find out whether the novelty is worth paying attention to, and whether it was able to become on the same level as the recognized Swedish adaptation of 2015.
“A Man Called Otto” / A Man Called Otto
Genre drama, comedy
Directed by Mark Forster
Starring Tom Hanks, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Cameron Britton
Release year 2023
Otto (Tom Hanks) does not like people, he constantly grumbles and is picky about little things, but he loves order. He carefully takes care of his residential area, because of this he constantly quarrels with neighbors and workers of various services.
New neighbors cause even more trouble for the man – pregnant Mexican Marisol (Mariana Trevino) with her husband Tommy (Manuel García-Rulfo) and two children. They constantly ask Otto to help them in some way, but they distract from the main thing – to commit suicide in order to meet in heaven with his recently deceased wife, Sofia.
When watching the new tape, and when analyzing it further, one cannot help but compare it with the first screen adaptation of 2015, “Uve’s Second Life” by director Hannes Holm. The picture was even shortlisted for the Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Probably the creators of “A Man Named Otto” themselves understand this, because the credits indicate that the film is based not only on the book by Frederick Buckman, but also on the same tape.
It is also worth noting that everyone will like this movie: those who have read the book and watched the first movie, and those who are not familiar with the original sources. It’s just that the first will like the American adaptation a little less, and the second will like it more. And this is normal, because some will have something to compare with, and others will not.
“A man named Otto” loses to the Swedish film adaptation in the depth and depth of the development of the main character’s story. “The Second Life of Uwe” is more guided by the book, makes a deep dive into the hero’s past, tells in detail about his relationship with his father, who played a significant role in the formation of the boy, and then with his wife.
But the American adaptation completely removed the episodes with the father, and his existence is mentioned only in one dialogue. The background story of Otto’s relationship with his wife Sofia was cut a little, because the main focus was on Tom Hanks, who plays his character here and now.
No matter how cool and, most importantly, naturally, Swedish actor Rolf Lassgaard played the role of Uve, Tom Hanks did it much better and more dramatically. His Otto sinks into the viewer’s brain almost instantly, penetrates thoughts and stays there for a long time.
“A man named Otto” is designed for an American audience, so the story has been adapted to the realities of the United States. Iranian migrants became Mexican, Volvos and SAABs were replaced by Fords and Chevrolets, added a bit of middle-class problems, the difficult lives of transgender people, etc. Of course, “The Second Life of Uve” also shows the problems of Sweden itself, but they are ours, European, and therefore much closer and more understandable.
In everything else: the quality of filming, the performance of secondary actors and the young main character with his wife (their roles were played by Tom Hanks’ son Truman and actress Rachel Keller), the selection of roles, musical accompaniment and cinematography, “A Man Named Otto” looks better and better.
Pros: the incredible acting of Tom Hanks, a well-executed role of Marisol, a high-quality adaptation of a European film to an American one, a great cast of actors, excellent humor and respect for the original sources Cons: cutting the relationship of the main character with his father, cutting part of the story of young Otto and his wife Sofia, calculation for the American viewer, he distances the cinema from the European viewer. Conclusion:
“A Man Named Otto” is a quality sensual film that is sometimes sorely lacking in today’s pursuit of blockbusters and comic book movies. The picture once again proves that if Tom Hanks is shooting here, the film is worth watching. The actor perfectly coped with the difficult role of a man who suffers and is offended by the whole world due to the loss of a loved one.
The film is careful with the original sources, but still does not show some important moments of the main character’s relationship with his father and wife. The remaking of the story for the American audience, although done at the highest level, still distances us, Europeans, from understanding some moments of the film. But it still turns out great, so we recommend everyone to watch it