Likeable, if not really very good (in spite of a Best Foreign Film Oscar® nod), writer/director Hannes Holm’s character study of grumpy old Ove, retired, depressed, widowed, suicidal, is a dramatic cheat with bitter comic trimmings. It follows a tried, if less than true, story arc, warming up a scold thru forced human interaction (neighbors new, old, Iraqi, & young), occasionally pausing for a botched suicide attempt accompanied by flashbacks to joys & sorrows past. The filmmakers, no doubt, think they’re being tough & honest having Rolf Lassgård’s Ove stay offensively disagreeable, though his eventual warm-up is never in doubt. But he comes off as such a fierce, even threatening asshole, you can’t figure out why the good-hearted neighbors (and they’re all good-hearted) return for fresh assaults. That said, some of the gags & quick reversals-of-fortune have a recognizable edge of human comedy, especially a running gag involving car-brand loyalties. (And there's a great lump of a cat.) But once this Scrooge starts taking on incremental warmth thru the installment plan, the sympathy-begging revelations start to feel force-fed.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: If the film’s main musical theme sounds familiar (it’s derived from the second movement of Schubert’s E Flat Piano Trio), it could be from its prominent use as the ‘traveling' theme in Stanley Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON/’75.
DOUBLE-BILL: Clint Eastwood, in excellent late form, takes a similar redemptive interior journey in GRAN TORINO/’08.