A Man Called Ove is an inspiring movie about a quintessentially grumpy old man with unyielding beliefs, strict routines, and the belief that everyone around him is an idiot — and who never hesitates to tell them so. When his new neighbours accidentally run over his mailbox, the curmudgeon’s solitary, over-regulated world is shaken in ways he would never have imagined.
What is so deeply moving for me about this story is the way it perfectly captures and expresses the fundamental truth that being needed is an essential human longing, and that life is so much sweeter when we share it with others.
I was also struck by how A Man Called Ove conveys the process of healing and change in in ways that are so familiar to me as a psychotherapist. For example, Ove’s story unfolds in a back-and-forth movement between present and past as we see the losses and wounds that shaped who he is. The movie also uses repetition, like Ove’s neighbourhood patrols, to show how he grows and changes, and how other people’s perception of him transforms.
In talk therapy we’re engaged in a similarly cyclical motion of emotional healing where we repeatedly encounter and explore our deepest feelings, traumas and behaviours in order to expand our conscious awareness, challenge assumptions and narratives from the past, and develop and integrate a stronger sense of self.
This is a movie that touches on some of the biggest existential themes in life with humour, intelligence and charm – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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