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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: A Man Called Otto

Otto is a grump who's given up on life following the loss of his wife and wants to end it all. When a young family moves in nearby, he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol, leading to a friendship that will turn his world around.

Tom Hanks & Mariana Treviño.

A Man Called Otto is as its trailer suggested, a sweet & passionate comedy that almost entirely worked. Tom Hanks is known for his very sweet, good human roles, whether it is in a drama or comedy. I have enjoyed his recent interest in more dislikable & antagonistic characters, this is no different. Otto is a mean, rather dismissive man but it doesn’t take long until we see a deep sadness within him. His character development is very subtle, but extremely effective.

Tom Hanks does a great, complex job that offers more than at face value. Along with Mariana delivering a fantastic supporting performance that was a lovely drive from the beginning to its end credits. While not outlandishly shot or overly ambitious with its filmmaking, it achieves exactly what it sets out to do. Production design is fun, but rather stagey, often distancing itself from any sense of realism. While this isn’t particularly a bad choice, it plays with very real themes and would have loved the production to always reflect that.

Its story is touching and works for the most part. Although it definitely doesn’t shy away from the darker, emotional side of the story. I would have much preferred the filmmaking to reflect that deeper, being more risky with its decisions and remove some of the more, traditional comedy that was present for a lot of the film. But it’s far from being absent of good comedy, it is funny and it is witty at times. But it doesn’t land all the time.

However, the film can be tonaly inconsistent, many times it feels as though it is a committed studio comedy. While at times, a complex drama. This is not only shown through its writing, but it’s inconsistent editing that works really effectively at times, is far from perfect.

While difficult to discuss the film without a deeper dive into the story, it’s sweet and greatly impactful. A mash of good editing, acting and often great writing. With some great and beautiful trans representation. A Man Called Otto surprisingly worked with me & wouldn’t turn down a rewatch in the future.

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