A MAN CALLED OVE Interview With Director Hannes Holm
‘A Man Called Ove’, is directed and adapted by Swedish filmmaker Hannes Holm. Sourced from the New York Times Bestseller of the same name, the original story was written by Fredrik Backman. The film follows Ove, an isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing neighborhood rules and visiting his wife’s grave. Right as Ove’s given up on life and drifts to thoughts of joining his wife, a unlikely and unwanted friendship starts to develop with his boisterous new neighbors. 'A Man Called Ove' comes to theatres September 30th and is Sweden's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Oscars
Cinema Without Borders sat down with the director of the film, Hannes Holm, to gain further insight into his process of bringing this epic story to life.
Wyatt Phillips: How did you first come across the novel for ‘A Man Called Ove’?
Hannes Holm: It was from the production company, and honestly I didn’t, everything in there I was so curious to read about it, but I don’t think I even wanted to do it because it was a best selling novel in Sweden, and you know how it is with best sellers to make into films, and I heard about Fredrik Backman that he was very stubborn, a grumpy old man, and since I read it, it wasn’t until meeting that I wasn’t so interested, and then- but I bought this copy of the book and when I came home I went into bed and started to read the book and then I was caught! [laughs] Because that title is ‘A Man Called Ove’, it spells comedy, and I like that comedy for Sweden.
WP: What attracted you to tell that story through film?
HH: I think it was when I read the book, I almost invite in my own stories, but the thing is, when I read the book, I started to think about my own parents, when they met, and the three brothers and one daughter crushed their happiness, and I got the idea, what about, what about shooting my- the love of my parents before they had the children, and it in a way told Sweden most, when the mothers washed the plastic bags from the grocery shop and kept them and used them one more time, in a time when people didn’t ask so much, for that much, and so I thought ‘Oh!’—Here is something that I really want to do in the flashbacks.
WP: The seamless transitions to Ove’s memories of his life make for some perfect cinematic moments, I definitely agree, was this idea plucked from the pages of the book or one of your own additions to the storytelling?
HH: In a way, it was both. It’s like um… I think when a trader is doing a film about- from a popular novel, its best that they keep the book too far into the production, I really want to get rid of the book before I start to shoot, or even it’s like I read the book hundreds and hundreds of times, so I have the story into my blood and then I want to steal the story of the book. Like, if you read a book and you tell me the story of the book, your telling me your own version of that story. I think in many cases directors are too humble to the story in the book and I also took the story a bit further in the ending scene, the ending is not the same ending of the book.
WP: How did you strike a balance between Ove’s bitterness and the audience’s empathy to follow this character?
HH: It’s a matter of casting I think, I definitely, as I started to look at satire and sketches and comedy in Sweden, and in the production it saw that it’s an ordinary Swedish comedy, this film, so when I started directing the script, I started to think about Rolf Lassgård the same time. And the production company didn’t want him because he’s not a comedian, and I think he [Lassgård] said he wasn’t a comedian, and I said that that doesn’t matter, I really need a good actor to do this and I feel he seems to be such an intelligent man—So I really was fighting for Rolf. Then we looked at some films once we settled the cast, one film was of course ‘About Schmidt’. Helped us look at that inner kind of pain.
WP: Every character in the movie is slightly changed from Ove’s good deeds by the end of the film, did you want to leave your audience with any kind of change when they finished watching ‘A Man Called Ove’?
HH: I never usually do that, but that it’s like, after they’ve seen this film, I hope, that the… the audience will go home, look to the one they- the person that they love and hug that person because you never know when it’s too late.
'A Man Called Ove' opens this Friday, September 30th in West L.A. at the Royal Theatre and on October 7 at Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, Laemmle's Town Center 5 in Encino and the Regency Westlake Twin in Westlake Village. The film opens in Orange County on October 7, 2016 at Regal Edwards Westpark 8 in Irvine and Regency Rancho Niguel in Laguna Niguel. Persian-Swedish co-star of the film, Bahar Pars, will be in Los Angeles doing Q&As opening weekend at The Royal Theatre following the 7PM shows on Friday and Saturday.
Full list of theatres here: http://www.musicboxfilms.com/a-man-called-ove-movies-139.php