Tag Archives: subtitled

A Man Called Ove

There is indeed a man called Ove. He is a crotchety old man who rules his condo tenement with fierce rigidity. He’s aged out of his job and his wife has left him (well, died, but he’s such a grump I can only assume it was purposely, to escape him). I shouldn’t joke; his wife’s grave is the only time and place where he’s a little tender. Does he list her a litany of complaints? Of course he does. But only because the world’s gone to MV5BNTgzNDcxYzEtZDljOC00NDZmLTk2ZTAtOTVhM2Y1MWI1YzUyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDc2NTEzMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1581,1000_AL_shit without her. The only reason he hasn’t committed suicide yet is the damn neighbours, who need constant monitoring and discipline, and who else would take it upon themselves to mete it out?

It turns out that Ove has had a pretty interesting life. It’s just that no one knows it because he isolates himself, sequestered in a condo that’s still a shrine to his dead wife. It’s only because some boisterous, needy new neighbors draw him out against his will that we learn the ups and downs that have contributed to his current thorny state. If you’re feeling like this sounds a little sentimental, well, it is. But it stays just shy of saccharine thanks to a nuanced performance by Rolf Lassgård in the title role. He never lets Ove go full-martyr, he keeps the role alive and flawed and beautiful. Ove’s may not exactly be a unique character arc, but it’s charmingly irresistible in Lassgård’s hands.

The film is a little predictable but so sweetly executed that I’m finding it hard to fault it. It’s surprisingly funny at times, mixing genres fairly deftly, making for a lovely, bittersweet, and humane character study that’s a pleasure to watch.

 

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Tunnel

On his way to his young daughter’s birthday party, a man becomes trapped in his car as a tunnel collapses around him. There’s no telling when or if help with arrive, and all he’s got are 2 bottles of water and a birthday cake to see him through. His wife finds out in the worst way imaginable and the Korean news is pretty ruthless in reporting the failure of a newly-built piece of infrastructure. The damage is so encompassing that the rescue will be a long-term affair and there’s no guarantee that a little water and cake will be enough to keep him alive until help arrives. Of course, that’s not even considering whether the panic and isolation might get him first – or if the poorly and hastily constructed tunnel might further deteriorate.

Jung-soo (Jung-woo Ha) is the man in the tunnel so of course this movie is his. As blunders delay the rescue and the national media loses interest, this poor guy is as alone fullsizephoto731941on this earth as anyone will ever be. He isn’t just going through a physical hardship, but a psychological one as well. Occasional glimpses of the rescue effort reminds us just how bleak his situation really is. Dae-kyoung (Dal-su Oh) is the only member of the rescue team truly dedicated to Jung-soo’s survival. Politicans are turning their backs and resources are drying up – are being redirected, in fact, to the construction of yet another tunnel. Meanwhile, Jung-soo’s wife, Se-hyun (Doona Bae) treads the fine line between hope and realism. This trio of actors give very fine performances. Tunnel ends up being more character-driven than action movie, and that’s a good thing. When the script demands it, the visual effects are there, but it’s Jung-woo Ha and co-stars who drive the story forward. It’s a story we’ve seen and heard before but writer-director Kim Seong-hun injects this with satirical elements that bring renewed interest to the genre.

Tunnel is perhaps overlong and could have benefited from some fat-trimming but I still really enjoyed it. It’s got some juicily angry scenes (Kim Seong-hun obviously has something to say about bureaucracy in general and his nation’s government in particular) and some surprisingly dark humour. You might not expect to chuckle through a disaster flick, but this one’s got a little bit of everything.

 

One Week And A Day

When Eyal and Vicky Spivak finish the week of mourning for their son, their grief is a gulf between them. Vicky is ready to launch back into the comfort routine but Eyal seems lost, stuck, and unsure of how to proceed, or why. His stealthy rescue of a bag of medicinal pot from his son’s hospice room leads to a form of mourning unlike any other you’ve seen on the screen before.

In an odd way,  One Week And A Day is a comedy about grief. After a hilarious montage of Eyal’s inept failure to roll a proper joint, he recruits the young neighbour next door MV5BZmE0NGJjYzItOTExNy00ODI3LTljOWYtNWQ1NmMyN2NiZjU0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjA5NjAzMjI@._V1_SX1776_CR0,0,1776,960_AL_(an old friend of his son’s) and the two of them roll their way through grief and loss. Vicky is as disapproving as you might imagine, but she’s not exactly smoothly sailing through this period either. Her grief is just as bumbling, if more sober.

Turns out the neighbour, Zooler (Tomor Kapon), is an aspiring air guitarist, and his quirky, oddball demeanor is just what the doctor ordered, maybe not just for Eyal (Shai Avivi), but for all of us. The death of one’s child is a subject so sensitive, so awful to contemplate, that often we avoid it. Movies that dare to breach the topic are often morose and difficult to watch. In this case, writer-director Asaph Polonsky gives us reason, and permission, to smile through it. It’s a relief.

Which is not to say there isn’t something deeply emotional running under the surface. It bubbles up during a eulogy that comes late in the film, and it’s such a poignant moment that it stops you short. It gives balance to the film, and grounds us once again in reality.

Polonsky uses a wide lens to show the dynamic between Zooler, Eyal, and Vicky as the back and forth between them tends to be quite powerful. Everything in this movie feels casual and off-hand, allowing us to get closer to the subject, but this is due to careful orchestration behind the scenes. Afterward, recounting my favourite scene to Sean, tears sprung in my eyes. I hadn’t realized how moved I was by it because the movie doesn’t manipulate you into sadness. It very gently cradles you, but clearly even without the histrionics it’s capable of evoking feeling.