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A MAN CALLED OTTO

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Film Review

By Alok Joshi
Unable to sleep on a long inernational flight and having failed to find any interesting Hindi movie on-board not seen before, I bumped into a new English film called “A Man called Otto”. It starred one of my favorites, Tom Hanks, whose “The Terminal”, happens to be my all-time favorite.

The movie is a remake of Swedish hit “A man called Owe” based on a novel. It is the story of 63-year-old Otto Anderson (played by Hanks) who complains about everything, from a DHL delivery driver to a dog-walker who happens to pass by his community. Nobody in the neighborhood can escape Otto’s wrath. But in the midst of all this frustration, this grumpy widower strikes an unlikely friendship with his neighbors that turns his world around. Otto’s wife Sonya passed away six months back and he is still in a state of despair. He even attempts to take his own life but is interrupted by his new neighbors Marisol, Tommy and their two daughters. The young Mexican family continues to unwittingly interrupt Otto’s subsequent suicide attempts. They somehow always end up saving his life but more importantly change his behavior and mindset for the better.

The funny chemistry between Otto and the lady neighbor literally drives the story. Every incident between them makes Otto more positive. The change is gradual but the character development of Otto makes it a worthwhile movie to watch. Tom Hanks is amazing and carries the story almost single-handedly on his shoulders. It is a heartwarming and funny story about love, loss and life.
For me (and I guess most viewers), the message was simple but important. Sometimes the small acts of kindness can make all the difference to someone’s life. I could relate the story with many retired men who live lonely lives. They have their own reasons to be bitter, disappointed and irritable but we judge them very fast. In this materialistic world, family can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places.
(Alok Joshi is an HR Advisor, a freelance writer and author of two books including “12 Sweet & Sour years in China”)