A Man Named Otto

To be honest, I can't remember when Linda and I last set foot in a movie theater. The COVID-19 Pandemic caused a paradigm shift in our entertainment menu. First, theaters were shuttered. Then, the films released held little interest for us.

Then came A Man Called Otto starring Tom Hanks. On a rainy Sunday, we trekked to our theater of choice to view a movie we both agreed that we wanted to see. The fact that the theater is scheduled to be closed in a month or so and the inability of the staff to be able to use our gift certificates are but distractions. Let's talk about the movie. The theater was, perhaps, 20% full for a recent release – a harbinger of why it's scheduled to close. We sat for twenty minutes previewing of films neither of us will ever see. Oh, and a bucket of popcorn is listed at $5.65, a 600% profit rate! But I want to talk about a film, not a failing industry.

I've read a few reviews of the film, but they fail to deal with the social meat of the movie, focusing instead on Tom Hanks and the other actors.To my mind, the reviewers missed the message presented by the well written story. Spoiler Alert! Stop here if you intend to see the film. Decide for yourself. I'm not a film critic and I don't play one on TV.

Tom Hanks plays a widower of six months. He suffers from Bereavement Depression, a known infliction suffered by those who have lost life-partners; more severe for surviving men than women. He lives in a 'gated' (using the term loosely) community that he has been a part of since his marriage. His home is under attack by progress. It has become uncomfortable, unwelcome, and unfamiliar to him. The film revolves around his struggles with his own depression and the changes happening in 'his community'; despite his efforts to leave them behind. In no particular order, the community has to deal with the real-life issues of:

  • Employment discrimination of the senior population
  • Immigrant inclusion and change
  • Transgender exclusion and discrimination
  • Pervasive elder abuse and intimidation by corporate real estate entities
  • Positive and negative impacts of social media on the community

This film is a sleeper. I suspect it is aimed more at the 'boomers' than the 'gen-Z'. There are no CGI effects, no heroic battle scenes on distant planets or alternative universes, and the actors all keep their clothes on. But there is a powerful message in this 127 minutes of community. Tom Hanks, the writers, and the director deserve Oscars for this film. Unfortunately, they will be overlooked and ignored; more to the loss for us.

I recommend that you take the time to find, watch, and enjoy this powerful introspection of our world.

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Friday, 23 February 2024