A Man Called Ove (2015) Themes Analyzed & Ending Explained: A Man Called Ove (2015) is a Swedish comedy-drama film written and directed by Hannes Holm and based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman. At the 89th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The film is entirely about an isolated and quintessential angry old man next door named Ove Lindahl (Rolf Lassgård), who lives in a townhouse and is very strict about neighborhood norms. Seemingly he resembles a troublesome person and totally radiates ‘Karen’ energy. This film takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride of how a vexed person tries to find love in the world again.
A Man Called Ove (2015) Movie Summary & Plot Synopsis
Ove Lindahl is a 59-year-old widower living in a townhouse where he was once a chairman of a neighborhood association before Rune (Börje Lundberg), his former friend, replaced him. Currently, Rune is paralyzed from a stroke and is cared for by his wife, Anita (Chatarina Larsson). Ove’s wife, Sonja (Ida Engvoll), died six months ago from cancer. Therefore, a depressed Ove attempts suicide several times before being continuously and unwittingly interrupted by a pregnant Iranian immigrant Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), who moves into the house across the street with her Swedish husband, Patrick (Tobias Almborg), and their two children.
During a suicide attempt by hanging, Ove gets flashbacks of his past and childhood. His mother passed away when he was a child. His father, a mechanic at a train company, wasn’t one of such men who expressed immeasurable remorse for the death of loved ones. He was quiet most of the time until one day, he started sharing his knowledge with Ove about train engines. Having done particularly well at his exams, Ove reported his results to his father, who was so delighted to spread the news that he failed to notice a moving locomotive and was hit by a train and was killed on the spot. All of a sudden, the rope he hung himself tore, thus once again failing to kill himself.
Before long, he tries to attempt suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning inside his car when the screen cuts to the past, where it shows two men from the local council, whom Ove dubs “The Whiteshirts,” who want young Ove’s home to be demolished. Ove instead fixed the house. His neighbor’s home caught fire one night, and Ove saves two people. But sparks from the fire cause his home to burn, and The Whiteshirts prevent the fire from being tackled because they plan to demolish it anyways. With nowhere to go, Ove slept on a train, where he met Sonja and was smitten by her.
They started dating, and Sonja encouraged him to finish school and earn an engineering degree. At present, Ove’s suicide was again interfered with by Parvaneh as she bangs on his garage door. She wants a lift to the hospital because her husband has had an accident. Ove takes care of Parvaneh and Patrick’s two daughters. Later, Ove goes to the train station, planning to jump in front of a train. However, when a man on the platform faints and falls onto the tracks, Ove jumps down and rescues him.
Ove, reluctant at first, later agrees to teach Parvaneh how to drive. He even takes in the cat, which he initially disliked. He opens up to Parvaneh about his friendship with Rune and why they grew distant. Initially, they both shared common interests. They worked together to establish rules and order, with Ove as chairman of the neighborhood association board and Rune as the deputy chair. But later, their friendship started to fade due to conflict over cars. When Ove drove a Saabs, Rune preferred Volvo, and later Rune organized a “coup,” replacing Ove as chairman.
He repairs and refurbishes a bike he confiscated from a neighborhood teen, Adrian (Simon Edenroth), and returns it to Adrian, who works at a kebab shop with another youth called Mirsad (Poyan Karimi). Noticing Mirsad’s eye makeup, Ove asks if he is “one of those gays” but doesn’t bother to discourage his preference. Later, when Ove tries to shoot himself with a shotgun, he is interrupted by Mirsad, whose father kicked him out for him being gay, and Ove lets him stay.
Subsequently, Ove tells Parvaneh about how a pregnant Sonja keenly wanted to go to Spain by bus on vacation and how they faced a bus accident while returning, accounting for her miscarriage. Sonja’s other injuries confined her to a wheelchair, which made her unable to work as a teacher. When the local authorities ignore Ove’s pleas to build a wheelchair ramp, he goes to the school at night and builds one.
One day, the older Ove collapses and is taken to the hospital, where he lists Parvaneh as his next of kin. Parvaneh was told that her ‘father’ has an enlarged heart, but he’ll survive. Laughing out of joy, she goes into labor and delivers a boy. Ove gives presents to Parvaneh’s daughters, who call him ‘grandpa.’
Life goes on peacefully for Ove for a few months. However, Parvaneh and Patrick rush to Ove’s house as she sees an ever-punctual Ove didn’t clear his pathway, only to find him dead in his bed while his cat is beside him. Having found everlasting peace, Ove has left strict instructions for a modest funeral. He has written down the details of his cat’s meal and asked Parvaneh and Patrick not to allow cars in the driveway. The film ends with Ove waking up on the train where he first met Sonja to find her waiting for him in the afterlife.
A Man Called Ove (2015) Themes Analyzed
Grief & Loss
One of the most important themes in this movie is grief and loss; Ove, a grumpy and reclusive old man, loses the people he loves from time to time. His mother expired when he was very little; his father wasn’t a loquacious person either. A child growing up without the care of a mother is complicated and tough. Not before long, his father passed away due to a careless accident, leaving him an orphan. His home was burnt down. The woman he loved and married died of cancer. He visits her grave every day with a bouquet of roses. It’s like everyone he was fond of left him. The burden of living alone without any meaning made Ove suicidal.
Ove is struggling to come to terms with the losses. Hence, he considers taking his own life to be reunited with Sonja. He is fighting to find a reason to continue living. Albeit, his awkward interactions with his recent neighbors gradually help him find his purpose in life again.
Friendship for a person with traits like Ove is difficult and rare. Ove, being a strange man himself, finds Rune to be his friend. They both shared similar ethics about the community, and both were much more disciplined men. Ove was the chairman, and Rune was the Deputy chair.
However, Ove starts to bond with Parvaneh though initially, she seems annoying to him. Their relationship seemed so much like that of a father and a daughter. Often Ove‘s outburst of rage was uncivil and disrespectful, but a patience-laden Parvaneh still taught him that no man in the world could live alone, and neither can Ove. She inculcated a moral virtue of life into Ove.
Acceptance & Tolerance
One of the central themes of this movie is accepting others for who they are and valuing the virtue of tolerance and compassion. Ove might have been portrayed as irritable, but his sense of acceptance was huge. When he found out that Mirsad was gay, he didn’t pass any offensive remarks, while Mirsad’s father, who might be younger than Ove, kicked him out of the house. There are plenty of people in society, carrying the orthodox mentality for a long time. At the same time, there are people like Ove, too, who don’t judge people on the basis of their sexual orientation. He actually possesses a kind heart and a deep sense of loyalty.
Ove shows intense hatred towards a cat at the movie’s beginning but later grows affectionate for it. “The Whiteshirts” often ridiculed Ove, but he lets them be due to his gradual showcase of tolerance and patience.
Aging & Legacy
Ove is an elderly man who is grappling with the challenges of aging. He somewhat suffers from mood swings. Ove can be jolly, but suddenly he might be filled with rage; these unusual mood shifts often make it hard for others to understand him and get a glimpse of his sweet and lovely nature. He is often depressed about his life, and his old age adversely impacts his temperament.
However, the movie explores the concept of legacy and the impact we can have on the lives of others, even after we are gone. Ove, although depressed and asocial, is loved by his neighbors, especially Parvaneh. On his last note, Ove specifically mentions following the driving rules within the neighborhood, and thus, after his death, he passes down his legacy.
Second Chances & Enlightenment
Writer/director Holm has displayed a great message in the movie through the themes of second chances. Many a time, life disposes of us in situations from where we can’t raise ourselves up anymore. But giving up hope and faith is never an option. Ove frequently tried to commit suicide, but every time he was interrupted by some issue. When so many barriers are obstructing his motive, it is an omen that he might not want to take that path. And when Ove understood that, his cantankerous self convinced him to do something better, and he started to realize the purpose of life. Everyone accepts him; he might be grumpy sometimes, but he still possesses a golden heart.
Life always gives us second chances, Ove was lucky to get that many. Life has shown him mercy; life has made him realize that it’s never too late to make positive changes in our lives, and life has taught him to love again and again. These are the eternal beauties of life; it’s amazing. There will be hard times, but giving up is never an option. Eventually, Ove is shown to make peace with his broken pieces and attain enlightenment.
A Man Called Ove (2015) Ending Explained
A Man Called Ove (2015) is a simple drama with no great plot twist. It depicts an ill-tempered man accepting his fate of three tremendous losses and trying to cope up with it. We can find many Men like Ove in our society who strive hard to find a reason to live. Ove is gradually shown to reconnect with life after a series of unexpected events.
Ove attempts to commit suicide many times in order to join his late wife, Sonja. However, he is interrupted by his new neighbors. Their kindness and persistence slowly begin to break down Ove’s walls, and he finds himself becoming involved in their lives.
As the movie comes to an end, writer/director Holm magnificently portrays that Ove is no longer the lonesome and bitter man he was once. He has developed meaningful relationships with his neighbors. He learns that even in the middle of sorrow and hardship, life still has so much to offer, and it is worth living.
The ending unveils a powerful reminder that even when life goes south, the most complex and stubborn people do change and that love and kindness have the power to transform lives. Ove died a peaceful death whilst it was shown his soul finally getting united with Sonja.