7:30 PM, 12th September, 2017
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SCANDINAVIAN AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATION
Ove (Lassgård) – the name, by the way, has two syllables; think of it as rhyming with ‘hoover’ – is a retiree who has settled into the role of petty tyrant of his housing estate. Every morning he does the rounds, noting every misaligned letterbox and unlatched gate, with the aim of berating the poor sod responsible.
In these introductory scenes, the film sets itself a challenge: to make us come to respect Ove, and even (no promises, but speaking for myself) love him – despite this initially being made as difficult as possible. Two things work to change our minds. Firstly, Ove gets new neighbours, a young couple, and the wife – an adorable Persian woman named Parvaneh (Pars) – manages to somehow neutralise Ove’s tendency to bark at everyone with the simplest of all strategies: she doesn’t even notice. And secondly, we’re shown that this prickly old loner doesn’t have quite the past we’d expected. He was once married, and his hair-trigger willingness to take on the whole world in a fight once had a noble and magnificent side. And who knows? Perhaps it can again.
Just as Ove has more emotional complexity than we’d suspected, the codger-comedy-of-manners film we are watching does, too. It holds on to its comedic status, but also becomes something richer and lovelier.