A Man Called Otto is one of the biggest surprises of the year. Tom Hanks is great, but Mariana Treviño steals your heart with a beautiful performance.
Every year, we always have the late bloomer film that attempts to get into the conversation in award season, and that film this year is A Man Called Otto. The movie stars two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks as Otto, with Marc Forster directing the film.
The film is based on a novel and foreign film, A Man Called Ove, nominated for the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling in 2017. It was also the highest-grossing foreign language film of that year. So when you factor in all these things, there are big shoes to fill.
We first meet Otto (Hanks) at the grocery store, buying some rope. When cutting the exact amount he needs, a grocery store clerk comes over to ask him if he needs any help. At this moment, we start to understand that Otto is a bit of a grumpy old man that likes to do things his way. He shoos away the employee, stating he has his own knife. Moments later, at the checkout, the clerk rings him up, and the price of everything comes in higher than Otto expected. Otto argues that he only bought a certain amount of rope and only should be charged for that. The manager comes over and isn’t much help, causing Otto to get angrier.
Throughout the film, we learn why Otto is the way he is, but how David Magee lays out the story brings out this deeply-rooted story of loss and grief in a way that gives you plenty to chew on. Otto lost his wife and has begun to lose his desire to live. While nobody condones what Otto does to others, you share empathy for what he is going through.
When I watched the movie, I saw so much of myself in Otto that it was pretty freaky. Now, I don’t nitpick what my neighbors do or hold grudges against the cashier at the grocery store. However, I can’t imagine how I would react to the idea of losing the person I love in the way that Otto lost his wife. Furthermore, the growth that we see from Otto is something that I could see myself doing. I am not a people person, but my wife is, and to be quite honest, I hate it. She is friendly and bubbly, and I am quiet and reserved, but what she does to help others in need is inspiring. So like Otto, I could see myself trying to carry on that legacy by helping those who she would’ve helped.
The big turn for Otto was when Marisol (Mariana Treviño) and her family moved in across the street. Much like Otto’s wife (I would assume, and like mine), Marisol is loud and friendly, and always trying to make new friends. At first, Otto gets quite annoyed by Marisol and her family, but their friendship starts to take off little by little.
While Hanks as Otto is what you come for, you stay for the beautiful and heartfelt turn that Treviño gives in this film as Marisol. We all know how great Hanks is, but not only does she stand on her own, she steals several scenes throughout this film. She is the heart of this movie, and it simply would not work without her.
Overall, A Man Called Otto might have some beats that you might be familiar with, but it’s one of the year’s biggest surprises. The combination of Hanks and Treviño elevates this script and story into something that leaves you in a puddle of tears. I loved this movie and can’t wait to revisit it when it hits theaters.
Should be Considered: Best Supporting Actress (Mariana Treviño)
Release Date: In Select Theaters Now; January 13, 2023 (Wide Release)
Where to Watch: Theaters
Lives in Nashville
Favorite Director: Damien Chazelle