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  • Writer's pictureSteve

A Man Called Otto (2023)

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Tom Hanks continues to be nothing if not engaging. It happens every time and is the reason, no doubt, for his continued success, no matter the part he plays. Joining up with heavy hitters like Marc Forster and Thomas Newman (getting American Beauty soundtrack vibes here, fyi) also doesn't do any harm.

Hanks plays the titular Otto, a man of increasing years who has, we discover, lost his wife and lives a ghost of an existence since her passing. When we first meet him, he is not long for this world and plans to hang himself in his living room, as he sees no point in going on. Viewed by his neighbours as grumpy and curmudgeonly, they mostly have no idea why, and he's in no mood to talk about it. To anyone.

As we progress through numerous visits, via backstory, to the time they enjoyed together, from first meetings to a life seemingly fulfilled before his tragic loss, he slowly appears to be becoming more approachable. Sociable but with a heavy sigh, so to speak. When he's alone, thoughts turn to his late wife and then more failed attempts follow to join her in the afterlife.

"I got so wrapped up in my own troubles, I forgot to think about anyone else."

This starts predictably enough, with an aging man hacked off with the world he has been forced to endure and circumstances he neither wanted nor expected, having to deal with people he sees as idiots, for whatever reason. It would give him an excuse to retreat from the world into his own shell, to grieve, silently fuming at the unfairness of it all.

Again, somewhat predictably, this same man comes into initially unwanted contact with his new neighbours, in particular Marisol, played brilliantly by Mariana Treviño and the man with the big heart starts to come out of his shell with some genuine acts of kindness.

This is undeniably lovely and often heart-wrenching to sit through, even if it is for all of the right reasons. The pacing is just a little languid for me personally and could maybe have lost twenty minutes or so in the story of a good man sleepwalking, who had to be woken up, after spending too much time in the shadows. Hanks has done it again with another excellent performance, supported capably by the surrounding talent, considerately directed by Forster, with the always reliable Thomas Newman deftly accompanying events with a beautiful, unobtrusive score.


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