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A Man Called Otto, How to Rise from The Ashes

A Man Called Otto

Otto, a simple name for a film don’t you think? But there’s definitely more to it than it seems. Released in 2022 and categorized as a drama comedy, it’s about a story of an old man named Otto (Tom Hanks) who’s left devastated after his wife’s passing and his subsequent of attempts of suicide.

Yet every time he tries to do it, he’s distracted by something. Be it from the new neighbors moving in and giving him a meal. It can also be his daily routine on checking the neighborhood for any kinds of problems. He resorted to more extreme methods later on and even then he still fails because of his kind nature.

But who is Otto? Who is this man that’s called Otto? Well, he’s your run of the mill city boy with hopes of enlisting and failing because of his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. On the train station to go home, he notices a book that’s fallen out of a girl’s hands and rushes over to hand it back to her.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

He got on the same train as her and found her sitting by a window. He hands over the book and the girl thanks him while also inviting him to sit with her. The conductor notices that his ticket and the train don’t match and he has to buy a new ticket. After searching in his pockets frantically, he mustered out coins and yet he’s short of 25 cents. The girl sees that he doesn’t have enough money so she lent a 1964 silver quarter of which he kept ever since.

That girl is named Sonya (Rachel Keller) and Otto would eventually marry her. Now back to the present, after 6 months since his wife died, he decided he’s had enough. After quitting his job at the steel mill and turning off his electricity, he went and bought a foot of rope and some hooks to hang himself. But he notices the new neighbors who have just moved in struggling to parallel park a trailer.

As a grumpy old man, he decided to meddle in and park it perfectly in one go. The couple who we learned goes by the name of Marisol (Mariana Treviño), the husband Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and two daughters Abby and Luna. They thanked him for helping by handing him a steaming hot traditional Mexican dish and when they wanted to befriend him, he closed the door.

Otto decided to put his plan aside as he enjoyed the warm home cooked meals of Marisol. After it, he visited Sonya’s grave as he had a flashback to his first encounter with Sonya at the train station. A brief time skip forward, he helps his neighbor Anita (Juanita Jennings) with fixing her radiator despite having a feud with her husband, Reuben (Peter Lawson Jones). After lending a ladder to Marisol, he attempts another suicide by putting a hose from his car exhaust to inside of his car.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

This too fails because Marisol asked Otto’s help to drive her to the hospital as Tommy has fallen off the ladder. As you notice by now, each of his attempts of suicide ended in failure because of his nature or the universe itself denying him of the opportunity. The story of A Man Called Otto is an interesting one, it explored topics that’s already been done countless times but with a different twist.

Topics such as a heartbroken lover, loneliness, desperation and kindness. Usually the people who considered suicide after a lover died is a young couple, probably in their 20s or 30s. But Otto flipped that with himself being a 63 year old. It attempts to say that old people also have it tough after the person who accompanied them for more than half of their life is gone.

When you’re down in the dumps, sadly most of the time you don’t get the light you need to survive. Lucky instances do happen however, in the case of Otto it comes in the form of Marisol and her family. They whether knowingly or not saved Otto’s life when every time he attempts suicide. They had to ask Otto for his help because they’re new to the neighborhood and only know Otto and maybe Anita too.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

The more and more time Marisol spends with him though, she can feel the pain hidden inside of his heart. As the good charlatan she is, she wants to help Otto in any way she can, be it a home cooked meal or a heart to heart talk. In the end however, the decision still falls onto Otto whether he decides to continue attempting in the hopes that he succeeds. Or he quits it altogether to cherish the remaining life that he still has by taking care of the “idiot” Marisol and foolish Tommy, also the two cute daughters they have.

After many tearjerker scenes and suicide attempts later, it ends on a happy note. Because that’s what you need to rise from the ashes, a new purpose in life after you lost one. It may take a long time or it can happen when you least expect it. The important thing is you need to keep trying just a little longer. That’s precisely what Otto did.

In conclusion, A Man Called Otto is an engaging drama that completely sucks us in because of its stellar script and Tom Hanks legendary actor skills shining through. The comedy side too is done perfectly because not often you see a drama focused film or series sprinkled with comedy that makes you laugh.

Our Score (8.5/10)

Title: A Man Called Otto

Production: Colombia Pictures

Director: Marc Foster

Screenplay: David Magee 

Casts: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Rachel Keller, Juanita Jennings, Peter Lawson Jones

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