A Man Called Otto Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

On January 12, a new film with Tom Genks “My Terrible Neighbor” appeared in Ukrainian cinemas. This is the second adaptation of Swedish writer Frederik Backman’s book The Second Life of Ove on the big screen, which was created by the director of Christopher Robin, World War Z and 007: Quantum of Solace. In this review, you will find out whether the new product is worth attention, and whether it was able to become on par with the recognized Swedish film adaptation of 2015.

Pros: incredible acting by Tom Hanks, well-executed role of Marisol, high-quality adaptation of European cinema to American cinema, wonderful cast, excellent humor and respect for the original sources Cons: cutting the relationship of the main character with his father, cutting off part of the story of young Otto and his wife Sophia, calculation on the American viewer removes the film from the European viewer

“My Terrible Neighbor” / A Man Called Otto

Genre drama, comedy
Directed by Mark Forster
Starring: Tom Hanks, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Cameron Britton
Premiere cinemas
Release year 2023
IMDb website

Otto (Tom Genks) can’t stand people, he constantly grumbles and finds fault with little things, but he loves order. He carefully takes care of his residential area, so he constantly quarrels with neighbors and employees of various services.

The man’s new neighbors cause even more trouble: a pregnant Mexican woman, Marisol (Mariana Trevino), with her husband Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and two children. They constantly ask Otto to help them somehow, and take him away from the main task – to commit suicide – in order to meet his recently deceased wife Sophia in heaven.

When watching the new film and, upon further analysis, there is no escape from comparison with the first film adaptation of 2015, “Ove’s Second Life” from director Hannes Holm. The film was even shortlisted for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Probably, the creators of “My Terrible Neighbor” themselves understand this, because the credits indicate that the film is based not only on the book by Frederick Backman, but on the same tape.

It is also worth noting that this movie will appeal to everyone: those who read the book and watched the first film, and those who are unfamiliar with the original sources. It’s just that the first will like the American film adaptation less, and the second – more. And this is normal, because some will have something to compare with, while others will not.

“My Terrible Neighbor” loses to the Swedish film adaptation in terms of intimacy and depth of elaboration of the protagonist’s story. “The Second Life of Ove” is more guided by the book, delving deeper into the hero’s past, telling in detail about his relationship with his father, who played a significant role in the development of the guy, and then with his wife.

But the American film adaptation completely removed the episodes with the father, and his existence is mentioned only in one dialogue. The backstory of Otto’s relationship with his wife Sophia was cut a little, because the main emphasis was placed 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 Ove, Tom Hanks did it much better and more dramatically. His Otto is absorbed into the viewer’s brain almost instantly, penetrates the thoughts and remains there for a long time.

“My Terrible Neighbor” is intended for an American audience, so the story is reworked to suit the realities of the United States. Iranian migrants became Mexican, Volvos and SAABs were replaced by Fords and Chevrolets, some middle-class problems were added, the difficult life of transgender people was added, and so on. “The Second Life of Ove” also shows the problems of Sweden, but they are ours, European, and therefore much more close and understandable.

In everything else: the quality of filming, the performance of supporting 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 camera work, “My Terrible Neighbor” is made better than the first film adaptation.


“My Terrible Neighbor” is a bright, sensual movie that is sometimes so lacking in the modern pursuit of blockbusters and comic movies. The picture once again proves that if Tom Hanks is filming here, then the film is worth watching. The actor did an excellent job with the difficult role of a man who suffers and is angry with the whole world because of the loss of a loved one.

The film respects the original sources, but still does not show some important aspects of the relationship between the main character and his father and wife. The reworking of the story for the American viewer, although done at the highest level, still slightly distances us, Europeans, from understanding some moments of the film. But the film adaptation still turned out great, so we recommend everyone watch it

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