I did not read the book. I probably never will. But I watched the movie, and the movie was great. Let me tell you why.
First off… I cannot remember watching a movie in recent memory that had me on the verge of tears for almost the entire movie. Not even for the big obvious things, either. But for the small things. Small acts of kindness. Memories of loss. This movie puts it all on display and doesn’t pull any punches with its emotionality.
And, of course, that doesn’t work without talent. Talent behind the camera and so much talent in front of the camera. Tom Hanks, of course, is a known quantity. Even in his bad movies, he’s good, and this is an amazing movie in which he is very good. For my money, though, the real star of the show is Mariana Treviño. She’s funny, endearing, and stubborn in all the best ways. The exact ways that Otto needs.
As I mentioned, I didn’t read the book. I don’t know how closely this stuck to it. I’m given to understand that it’s a pretty faithful adaptation and, if so, that is why I will likely never read the book. I loved this movie dearly, but it put me in way too many emotional states to ever experience again. Some of them were happy, some of them sad, and some of them melancholy. Some of them fleeting, and some of them that will stick with me.
It’s a simple story. Not even, I don’t think, an original story. A crotchety old man finds love and acceptance, and in that process finds a reason to live and love again despite the pain in his life. We’re all going to get old someday, so this resonates with us all. That’s the heart of the story, and this one is one of the better renditions of this particular tune.
I know I’m being flowery and vague here. I don’t want to give away stuff and blunt its emotional impact. If you can handle a movie that makes you feel big feelings, then you should watch A Man Called Otto. It’s wonderful.
Should you watch it? Absolutely. It’s a simple, quiet movie full of big emotions.
Should you take your kids? Probably not. I think most kids would find it either boring or too sad.
What you should watch first: Nothing required.