Dir.: Hannes Holm; Cast: Rolf Lassgard, Bahar Pars, Ida Engvoll, Filip Berg, Chatarina Larsson, Börje Lundberg; Sweden 2015, 116 min.
Veteran director/writer Hannes Holm (Adam and Eve) offers up an thoughtful but contradictory portrait of old age. His central character is a bitter widower unable to adjust to life alone. His wife was clearly the guiding light in their lives, but further relationships seem fated in this well-meaning but ultimately crowd-pleasing drama that ends up trying our patience.
Adapted from Swedish bestseller by Fredrik Backman, the film starts off on a pleasingly droll note but long extended flashbacks take the pleasure and tension out of a storyline where the main-protagonist is either a curmudgeonly bastard, shouting at people and animals all day while his partner looks smiling radiant, or a beacon of tolerance – taking in a gay young man who has been disowned by this father. Somehow there are too many contradictions. Ove (like the director) is stuck in a Sweden of the 70s, when things were (outwardly) more simple, and he and his close friend Rune (Lundberg) could have fun competing which each with cars from Volvo and Saab.
The same messages are put forward in a much more convincing film The Happiest Day in the Life of Oli Mäki, that won last year’s Certain Regard Prize at Cannes. If you have a choice, this is the one to go for.
NOW ON GENERAL RELEASE