Movie Review: A Man Called Otto

In the movie “Boomerang”, released in 1992 and starring Eddie Murphy I remember thinking at the time, that Halle Berry (in one of her early roles) was probably just about the most attractive woman to ever appear on the screen. Some four years later, Berry mentioned that her favorite sport was Baseball, referencing her current husband David Justice in the very good movie “Executive Decision”. About a year later, who would have guessed that Halle Berry was in her garage with her 2 dogs sitting in her car trying to commit suicide because the man she thought was the love of her life was divorcing her. It was only because of her two dogs that Berry decided against ending her life almost 26 years ago.

The new and very good movie “A Man Called Otto” is about grief and loss at the level that Halle Berry experienced in 1997 and the main character in this movie Otto, played very well by Tom Hanks, also tries and fails to kill himself several times in this film. The reason for this is that Otto also lost the love of his life and suicide was his own personal solution while failing to cope with the tremendous pain of losing the one person in this world who he thought was the only one for him. Probably the greatest pain in this world is the pain of the loss of a long-term life partner or the person that you think is definitely the love of your life. Some of us find ways to move on, others of us turn to alcoholism, and others turn to suicide like Otto and Halle Berry.

Otto’s unbearable grief manifests itself with episodes of extreme anger towards everyone who lives in the townhouse development he lives in. He wants everything to be perfect, for people in his neighborhood to follow the rules and even to be fairly treated in his job. Even though for all of us, working for other people in too many cases can be too much about injustice and never enough about fairness.

Over time, through a family that moves across the street in Otto’s development, Otto slowly learns that relationships with other people and a sense of purpose in helping others can for some of us, be one solution for unbearable grief. I thought the slow, long-term relationships that Otto maintains throughout this story are the best parts of this film, causing Otto to transition from the bitter and angry man he understandably is, into someone who actually cares about other people. It is his sense of purpose and friendship that helps Otto move forward from his extreme pain. Otto’s life story is told through flashbacks showing Otto’s relationship with his wife from when and how they met, and through all of the tragedies they lived through. All of this is very well performed, highly emotional and at times, hard to watch.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a way too low and insane 68% and are once again, dead wrong. With this movie – because of its powerful message and storytelling is a solid 90% and a strong recommendation.