A Man Called Otto Ending, Explained: Does Otto Die?

Directed by Marc Forster, ‘A Man Called Otto’ is the American comedy-drama film adaptation of Fredrik Backman’s 2012 novel ‘A Man Called Ove.’ The film stars Tom Hanks in the titular role of Otto Anderson, alongside Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Mack Bayda, and others. The film revolves around the life of a grumpy old widower, Otto, who has lost the will to live after his wife Sonya’s death. However, the day he decides to end it all, a new family moves into his neighborhood and throws him in for a loop. What starts as a reluctant acquaintance with neighbor Marisol soon becomes a life-changing friendship for Otto. If you’re curious about how life unfolds for this unlikely duo, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘A Man Called Otto.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

A Man Called Otto Plot Synopsis

A few months after Sonya’s death, neighborhood grump Otto Anderson retires and prepares to commit suicide. He fixes a noose to his ceiling, but right before he hangs himself, he notices a couple making a ruckus while moving into the neighborhood. Annoyed by their incompetency, Otto rushes to confront them. Eventually, he helps his new neighbors, Marisol and Tommy, with parallel parking their car and returns to his house. After another interaction with the couple, Otto attempts to hang himself again and watches his life flash before his eyes. However, before the noose can kill him, it comes loose off the ceiling and sends him falling face-first on the floor.

As he falls on top of some newspapers, Otto notices a coupon deal for flowers. Later, he visits Sonya’s grave with flowers and talks to her. The next day Otto returns Marisol’s tupperware with an appreciative note. Soon, the couple knocks on his door again, looking for a ladder. When Otto goes to his garage to retrieve the ladder, he comes across Anita, who asks him to bleed out her radiator. Though Otto is reluctant due to some past grudge, he agrees to help her in exchange for the gardening hose Anita had borrowed. While he fixes Anita’s radiator, Anita tells him that the real estate people at Dye & Merika are trying to drive Rueben and her out of their home.

Later, Otto again attempts suicide, using the hose to fill his car with carbon monoxide while he shuts himself inside. Nevertheless, Marisol comes banging on the garage door after her husband falls down the ladder. With his second attempt also halted, Otto half-heartedly leaves to drive Marisol and her kids to the hospital. At the hospital, Otto bonds with the two kids, Luna and Abby.

Still plagued by Sonya’s absence, Otto goes to a train station, planning to jump the tracks in order to kill himself. However, his attempt goes south again when an older man falls into the railroad after passing out. Otto saves the man’s life, and he returns home. Following his return, Otto somehow ends up adopting a street cat at the persistence of Marisol and another neighbor, Jimmy. A few days later, he comes across Malcolm, Sonya’s former student. Malcolm talks to Otto about Sonya and how she had helped him during the early stages of his gender transition.

Meanwhile, Otto’s friendship with Marisol grows as he teaches her how to drive a car. Eventually, Marisol asks Otto to babysit her kids while she and her husband, Tommy, go on a date night. Soon, a social media journalist, Shari Kenzie, comes looking for Otto while he’s helping Malcolm fix his bicycle. Shari wants to interview Otto because of his heroic actions at the train tracks, a video of which has gone viral on the internet. Otto vehemently turns her offer down. Shortly after, Marisol visits Otto and tries to talk to him about Sonya.

While arguing with Marisola, Otto comes across a Dye & Merika Real Estate Agent who further angers Otto by bringing up Sonya’s death. Overwhelmed, Otto locks himself in his house, ignoring Marisol’s continuous knocking. He unearths a shotgun from his attic and prepares to shoot himself in his living room.

A Man Named Otto Ending: Does Otto Die?

As Otto sits in his living room with a shotgun to his chin, he flashes back to his life with Sonya. Throughout the movie, we learn about Otto’s past from such flashbacks that appear due to the overwhelming anxiety Otto feels whenever he tries to end his life. Like his previous attempts, this one is also foiled when a frantic Malcolm comes knocking on his door after his transphobic father kicks him out.

By now, it becomes clear that Otto doesn’t actually want to die. Instead, he feels incredibly lost and alone without his wife. Otto tells Sonya’s grave the same after his third attempt. Time and time again, he finds excuses to put his end off by interrupting neighbors, and eventually, he realizes he can find companionship again in his community. As such, when Jimmy tells Otto that Dye & Merika are planning to run Anita and Rueben out of their home, Otto decides to help out the old couple.

He arrives at Marisol’s house, looking for her assistance, and the two reconcile after Otto tells Marisol the truth behind Sonya’s death. Otto also admits he had been so lost without his wife that he had considered taking his life numerous times but assures Marisol he wants to stay alive now.

Otto calls Shari Kenzie and gets her to ambush the Real Estate Agents with media coverage the next time they arrive. He reveals that Dye & Merika have illegal access to medical information about elderly residents since they knew about Anita’s secret Parkinson’s diagnosis and Otto’s own heart condition. In the end, Otto and his friends successfully save Anita and Rueben from getting evicted. However, afterward, Otto undergoes a cardiac episode and passes out on the street.

Marisol takes him to the hospital, where she discovers that Otto has a medical condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, i.e., his heart is too big. After recovering from the episode, Otto lives his life satisfied and surrounded by Marisol’s family and caring neighbors. Otto is still a stickler for the rules but no longer wishes to end his life. The hole Sonya left in his life is still present, but Otto is no longer lonely.

Eventually, Otto dies due to his heart condition, and Marisol finds him dead in his bedroom. He leaves Marisol a letter on his dresser. In the letter, Otto says his goodbyes and tells Marisol he wants a small funeral. Otto is buried next to Sonya in a shared grave.

What Happens to Marisol And Her Family?

Throughout the film, Marisol saves Otto’s life in many ways and pulls him out of his depression. After Sonya’s death, Otto finds a new family with Marisol. He even visits Sonya’s grave with Marisol’s family. By doing so, he shares something deeply personal and sacred with them. Likewise, Marisol and her family come to love and depend on Otto. He’s there with Marisol when she gives birth to Marco, and Marisol’s kids start referring to Otto as Abuelo Otto.

Therefore, Otto leaves his property, money, and cat to Marisol after his death. He wants Marisol to use his money for Luna, Abby, and newborn Marco’s education. He also leaves his old car to Malcolm and his new Chevrolet truck to Marisol, asking her to promise never to let Tommy drive it. Both Otto and Marisol greatly affect each other’s lives. Even after Otto’s death, Marisol carries their friendship with her through the fund she starts for troubled kids under Sonya’s name.

How Did Sonya Die?

Though Sonya only ever appears in flashbacks and hallucinations, her presence highly affects the film’s narrative. Throughout the film, Otto is suicidal because he can’t find closure after Soya’s death and doesn’t see the point in living anymore. Otto and Sonya first meet at a train station shortly after the army rejects Otto from enlistment due to his medical condition. After a second meeting at the station, the two meet again and soon start dating.

At the time, Otto barely has any money since he doesn’t have a job, but Sonya sticks by him. Eventually, Otto gets a degree in engineering and asks Sonya to marry him. After the couple gets pregnant, they decide to take a vacation to Niagra Falls. However, upon their return, the bus crashes and leaves Sonya injured. After the accident, Sonya loses her baby and becomes paralyzed.

As such, Sonya has to use a wheelchair. However, Otto and Sonya’s neighborhood isn’t accessible for wheelchair users. Since there are no laws in place about it, the Dye & Merika company refuses to do anything. As a result, Otto gets increasingly angry at the company and lashes out. He’s soon voted out as the head of the Homeowners Association. Otto carries a grudge against the people involved in Sonya’s suffering, especially Dye & Merika. Therefore, after Sonya dies from cancer, Otto feels hopeless and lost and tries to end his life.

Read More: Is A Man Called Otto Based on a True Story?