Ove (Rolf Lassgård) is the kind of neighbor you want to punch in the face, but he’s a wonderful, deeply loyal friend if given a chance. It just takes a funny and, at times, dramatic series of events to bust the curmudgeon out of his shell. The shell-busters are Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her family, recently moved into the neighborhood that Ove has spent his adult life overseeing. He’s a stickler for rules who diligently goes “on rounds,” but he’s also miserable, having recently been widowed and forcibly retired from his job. He’d love to kill himself—by hanging, or carbon monoxide poisoning, or shotgun—but Parvaneh keeps interrupting him. Such interruptions lead to friendship, albeit tentatively, and there’s nothing here that’s surprising or particularly fresh; imagine this like a bigger-budgeted Swedish version of The Station Agent. But the performances are dynamite; Lassgård’s angry face barely masks a deep pain, and Pars is a delight as the no-nonsense Parvaneh, who refuses to be intimidated by the grouch across the courtyard. Hannes Holm’s direction is assured, and you’ll cry at least twice before the credits roll.
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