July 29, 2009 by  

O’Horten


O’Horten

Baard Owe stars as Odd Horten, a retired train conductor, in "O'Horten."

Starring: Baard Owe, Espen Skjonberg, Ghita Norby
Directed by: Bent Hamer (“Factotum”)
Written by: Bent Hamer (“Factotum”)

Beautifully shot with the snow-covered city of Oslo, Norway as the backdrop, the minimalistic Norwegian film “O’Horten” is expertly paced and illuminated by the deadpan humor of its peculiar characters.

The film stars Baard Owe as Odd Horten, a 40-year veteran train engineer in the twilight of his career and facing the uncertainty of retirement at the ripe old age of 67. Like Jack Nicholson’s character in the 2002 dark comedy “About Schmidt,” Odd lives a fairly simple life and is not quite sure what he is going to do with his extra time.

Unlike “Schmidt,” Odd does not venture off onto the open road for a cross-country adventure. Instead, we watch as he meanders through the streets of Olso talking to people, visiting the local pub, and contemplating just how much of his past life he wants to remember. In one such casual scene, Odd spends practically the entire day searching for a friend at the airport. We watch day turn to night as he walks through the corridors for hours only to find him later sitting in probably the first place he should have looked but didn’t.

For a man who is so used to literally staying on track (with the exception of the occasional stray moose), a stroll off the metaphorical beaten path is a breath of fresh air. When Odd comes to the corner of a street, he tempts fate with his decision whether to turn left or right. While most would not consider what Odd is experiencing anything exceptional, there is always that sense that these effortless occurrences he has never encountered are the exact things that he can look forward to.

As Odd’s once dull life becomes more and more exciting with natural bumps in the road, he becomes aware of his own bravado. He understands that up to this point he has been a slave to routine and conformity. Whether he lives to be 75 or 105, Odd still has years ahead of him. Knowing this, it’s invigorating to watch him become a new man before our eyes through his own personal level of discovery.

Grade: B

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