Don’t be fooled by the recent news that Tom Hanks ‘won’ a Razzie award this year for worst actor for the live-action version of Disney’s Pinocchio. He remains a formidable actor who is capable of brilliant performances..
A Man Called Otto is another example of Hank’s versatility, as he veers from unlikable grumpy old coot to lovable grandfather figure in the span of the movie.
Hanks plays, well, a man called Otto, a retired senior citizen who has lost his reason to live after the death of his wife Sonya (played in flashbacks by Rachel Keller) and also being forced to retire from his job, and decides to take his own life.
But every time he tries to do so, something happens to stop him from finishing the job. His first attempt is interrupted by some new neighbours – Marisol (Mariana Treviño), Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and their two daughters, Abby and Luna. Little did he know that as time went by, these new neighbours would later give him another reason to live on.
As mentioned above, Hanks is without doubt the main draw here. Otto starts out as an extremely unlikeable person, prone to nit-picking about the smallest of details, from the 33 cents he is forced to pay for six feet of rope when he only wants five feet, to people not closing the gates to the small neighbourhood community he guards and patrols with an almost obsessive zealousness.
Travino’s Marisol and her family, along with a cat, are the rays of sunshine that help to thaw Otto’s grumpy demeanour, and it’s a real pleasure to see Hank’s progression in turning Otto from a man no one likes to someone they all love and depend on.
At times, he doesn’t even need to say anything – a single grunt, a slight narrowing of his eyes, a hint of a smile on his face... all these little details are enough to convey Otto’s thoughts and feelings and his gradual change of heart.
Thanks to that, director Marc Foster has the simple job of making sure things keep ticking over, deftly using Hank’s performance to keep the story going while he uses flashbacks to flesh out Otto’s past.
Hanks isn’t the only star here though. Travino is wonderful to watch as well, and is the perfect foil to Otto with her exuberant portrayal of the bubbly, enthusiastic, incessantly positive neighbour who just won’t give up on the grumpy old man living opposite.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming movie to watch in the cinemas or just want to enjoy some simple, uncomplicated, wholesome fare, A Man Called Otto is the film for you. Who knows, you might just come away feeling a little more positive about your life as well.
Hanks warms the heart