Get on down to your local cinema and spend two hours with Otto Anderson and his cat, I promise you you won’t regret it, just don’t forget to bring some tissues!
WRITTEN BY NIAMH BROOK / JANUARY 12, 2023
I’m going to be totally honest with you, I really thought I was going to hate A Man Called Otto. I went in not really knowing anything about it apart from that Tom Hanks was starring and his character had something to do with a cat. I hadn’t really seen anything promoting the film except for a particularly rubbish poster of, yep, you guessed it, Tom Hanks holding a cat.
However, as a lover of both Mr Hanks and cats, I dragged my begrudging boyfriend out to the cinema with a flask of tea and some leftover Christmas chocolates to get through what we thought would be a rubbish film and an excuse to get us out of the house. Little did we know that we were about to have our hearts shattered for the next two hours.
A Man Called Otto, follows Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a widower in his final days before he attempts to commit suicide. A particular, grumpy and private old man, Otto lives his daily life in a world he believes is filled with idiots and he isn’t afraid to let those around him know of their idiocy and incompetence. Perhaps the best way to describe A Man Called Otto is a more mature and graphic version of Up - complete with swearing and harrowing scenes of attempted suicide.
Tom Hanks’ performance as Otto completely carries this film, with every old man grumble, scoff and scold drawing you more and more into not only the essence of this character, but deep within his soul. The film wonderfully balances the comedic with the utterly devastating and Hanks’ take on Otto has you loving this grumpy old sod so deeply it’s as if he were your own grandfather.
Much like Hanks, the supporting cast each gave solid performances as Otto’s wacky yet charming next-door neighbours. But it was Mariana Treviño who led the supporting cast with a wonderful charm and her chemistry with Hanks gave the film the levity it so desperately needs.
It’s truly my worst nightmare to even imagine my partner passing away - to be left behind in a world without him in it. Otto is living this nightmare, ready to commit suicide as he simply can’t go on in a world without the love of his life. Marc Foster’s direction, Hanks’ performance and David Magee’s script work together in a way to create a film that will not only make you softly weep on your way back to the car (guilty) but also raise important discussions about men’s mental health and the importance of simply asking for help. Something I for one, welcome with open arms. Cinema offers us a basis for discussion, a tool to educate those around us or can simply act as a window into our daily lives. A Man Called Otto peeks into the lives of those left behind, and will hopefully spur discussion and may even help those watching to reach out and say that all-important phrase- ‘ I need help.’
If you can’t tell, I loved A Man Called Otto. A bloody lovely little film that was equally parts joyous as it was devastating. In a world where every day we hear more and more about the horrors of humanity, this two-hour film about a grumpy old man may just be the little dose of joy we all need in our lives and will give viewers a chance to ruminate on the good that can still be found everywhere we look. If I were to truly nitpick, some of the supporting cast could come off as a bit cringe and the music choices were ripped straight out of a 2010’s teen romance film, but those were the only gripes from someone who can typically find a lot of things they don’t like about a film. So, get on down to your local cinema and spend two hours with Otto Anderson and his cat, I promise you you won’t regret it, just don’t forget to bring some tissues!