There’s Always Time For Do-Overs

There’s Always Time For Do-Overs

Spoiler alert! This movie review discusses characters and plot points.


I had been eager to watch this film since I saw the previews for it a few months back. I couldn’t imagine anything that Tom Hanks, my unabashedly favorite actor could star in that I wouldn’t like. As I sat in the darkened County Theater in Doylestown, PA surrounded mostly by people of my own generation, I drank in the scenes like strong tea, first bitter, and then growing sweeter when adding the honey of love overcoming loss.

This recent remake of a 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove tells the story of Otto, a curmudgeonly Pittsburgh based widower who is forced into retirement, so he has lost his moorings and descends into a joyless time of rules and structure and disappointment, viewing everyone around him as incompetent idiots. He spends much of the day making sure that all of the rules of the block are followed, including cars requiring permits to even drive on the street and that the gates on either end are closed and locked so interlopers can’t come in.

Otto has a regimen that he follows to the letter, which includes waking up at 5:30, attending to his morning bathroom routine of brushing his teeth and shaving, eating breakfast, putting on a suit and going to the cemetery where he sets up a beach chair and visits his recently deceased wife Sonya. It is clear that he is lost without her and can’t imagine another day on Earth alone.

Trigger warning, as it is evident when Otto goes to a hardware store and buys five feet of sturdy rope and a strong steel hook, what he has in mind. Each time he attempts to take his own life, he is interrupted by people needing his time and attention. He begrudgingly helps them, bitching and moaning all the way. These include Jimmy, a boisterously ebullient neighbor who strut-walks each morning and greets Otto cheerfully to which Otto returns a grunt, as well as Otto’s long time neighbors and friends Anita and Ruben, and new additions to the gated off street, a family that includes an outgoing pregnant wife named Marisol, her inept (by Otto’s standards) husband Tommy and their two delightful daughters Luna and Abby.

The relationship between Otto and Marisol is initially contentious, evolving into what seems like a loving father-daughter union. One of my favorite interactions comes following a first meeting when Marisol and Tommy show up on Otto’s doorstep with a container of food, a Mexican mole (mo-lay) dish. After taking the meal with an “Okay, bye,” attempting to close the door, Marisol asks if he is always this unfriendly. He replies, “I’m not unfriendly.”  Her snarky sweet response is, “No, no, no, you’re not unfriendly. Every word you say is like a warm cuddle.” Slowly, but surely, she and her family worm their way into his heart. A furry four legged friend adopts Otto as well.

The film is interspersed with flash backs of meeting and falling in love with his wife and the ways in which his cantankerousness was formed. Loss shared is loss lessened, as he comes to realize that he is not the only one suffering. A heart tugging scene occurs between Otto and Malcolm who was a student of his wife and Otto takes this young person under his wing after he gets kicked out of his home by his father for being transgender and another between Otto and his long time best friend Ruben who is experiencing dementia. They had a falling out many years ago and they were able to heal the rift.

Note that vehicles, including cars, trains and a bus play roles as Otto is transported past to present and back again and take the viewer along for the ride.

This movie is a family affair as Rita Wilson is the director and their son Truman plays the young adult Otto. The Traveling Wilburys and Kate Bush add musical classics to the soundtrack.

The takeaway for me was that there are always do-overs, we each have a purpose, we need each other, family looks all kinds of ways, and perhaps there is a Divine plan.

If you or a loved one are at risk, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for support at 988 or 1-800-273-8255.

Stock photo ID:1355176914

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