Joining Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman at this year’s Academy Awards was a Swedish film, Hannes Holm’s A Man Called Ove. Although Farhadi would triumphantly take home the statue with his critically lauded drama, there was obviously attention mustered towards the latter, a film which also happens to feature an Iranian character played by Iranian-Swedish actress Bahar Pars. In a recent announcement which will certainly propel the film further into the public eye, Tom Hanks has now signed on to star and produce an adaptation of it for American audiences.
The film, based on a novel by Fredrik Backman, concerns itself with a depressed widower whose attempts at suicide are constantly foiled by a recent neighbor, Iranian immigrant Parvaneh. Joining a tradition of films which center on cantankerous, homegrown bigots and the patient immigrants who tolerate, if not unconditionally appreciate, them, A Man Called Ove’s announcement arrives at a time when immigrants—Iranians and Muslims in specific—are specifically of intense governmental concern and scrutiny. With the Muslim Ban continuing to grotesquely evolve as we speak and DACA having been rescinded less than three weeks ago, this administration has made it quite clear that the prejudices of wealthy Republicans in Congress continue to fuel an irrational mistreatment of the rights of Americans.
Choosing to develop this film for American audiences at this time is no accident, and the original executive producer for the film (who returns to these duties for the new version) says as much: “Tom Hanks himself is politically involved…[he] said it was important the movie is finished and premieres before it’s time to elect a US president again.”
Both movies by Farhadi and Holm scored significant box office numbers here, earning a combined $6 million during their limited releases, a not-insignificant take for foreign-language films. While details on the new remake are scant—presumably, it will be set in the US amidst our present-day turmoil—it will at least continue to situate Iranian-American perspectives in the conversation.
A Man Called Ove has no current release date yet, and will be produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Rita Wilson, and Fredrik Wikström Nicastro.
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