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Tom Hanks’ Otto Is An  Instant Classic



My Name Is Otto

My Name  Is Otto

Rating: **** ½

In how many ways  will Tom Hanks continue  to  surprise us  with his acumen of excellence? It’s not so much about his performances—which are  no doubt  of  a very high caliber—as  the content he  chooses instinctively, creating  a body of work that will endure much after he is  gone.

My Name Is  Otto is  a treatise on  simplicity  lucidity and compassion. Its message, if you are sold on one, is  to be kind and empathetic to the world even when you feel you have nothing to live for. The gloriously sweet-natured film shows us how futile it is to give up on life even when it seems that life has given up on you.

I  was surprised  to see Marc Forster’s name  as  the director of this simple and equanimous  film which opens in your heart doors that you never  knew were closed. Barring Finding Neverland, Marc has so far made dark ditzy dramas and thrillers including the big Bond film Quantum  Of  Solace . The closest Marc Forester has  come to the opulent artlessness of Otto  is  Finding Never land  which was  about the playwright who  created Peter Pan.

In My Name Is Otto, Tom Hanks plays  a man who no longer wants to live. Not after the death of his beloved  wife. As he tells his neighbour, “There was  nothing before her   there’s nothing after her.”

Otto finds  several ways  to  end his life, none  of them work largely because he is not  meant to die. There are so many lives to be fixed, so many lies to be put to  rest before he can call it quits. The  primary focus  of   Otto’s existence becomes his neighbour , a feisty Mexican woman named Marisol(played by Mariana Trevino who is a  force  of nature) and her  family of  husband(weak-willed and ineffective) and two livewire children.

Like it  or not, these new entrants  into Otto’s bleak life inject a renewed  vigour in his routine, and…well, it’s  all so charmingly on-track it seems  we are viewing a gallery of clichéd  situations assembled in one place, and that’s exactly what  it, a luminous litany of  life-giving clichés  put together with  illimitable warmth and tenderness.

There is a heartwarming flashback in which we see a young Otto(played by  Tom Hanks’ son Truman Hanks) courting his  future wife. It is  an oldfashioned courtship vignette which is deeply romantic and comforting. Indeed watching A  Man Called  Otto is like wearing a frayed  comfortable sweater  in the winter . You want to ignore its antiquity because it provides the comfort  of  the familiar.

They don’t make movies  like A  Man called Otto any more. They don’t make actors  like Tom Hanks anymore either. He is a truly a  showman  of our times. He  shows what it means to be a real man in a world  filled with the steroid variety of masculinity.

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