O'Horten (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/05/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Enjoyable Norwegian comedy-drama with gorgeous photography, a pleasingly quirky script and a great performance from Bard Owe.

What's it all about?
Directed by Bent Hamer, O'Horten is a blackly comic Norwegian drama about Odd Horten (Bard Owe), a 67-year-old train driver who has a series of bizarre adventures and quirky encounters in the aftermath of his retirement party. These include: accidentally breaking into a child's bedroom and being asked by the child to stay in the room until he falls asleep; having his midnight swim interrupted by two naked, frolicking and oblivious lesbians; being forced to wear high heels after his shoes disappear; getting strip-searched in the airport while trying to find his friend; and accepting an invitation to go blind driving from a man he finds lying in the street (Espen Skjonberg).

The Good
Bent Hamer brings the same eye for quirky detail to O'Horten that he brought to his previous Norwegian film, Kitchen Stories, itself something of an arthouse hit. Horten's series of low-key adventures are both charming and vaguely surreal, to the point where, if you're so inclined, you could have a decent post-film pub discussion about whether or not he dreamed the whole thing.

Bard Owe is superb as the pipe-smoking loner who seemingly accepts fate's every whim with the same benign expression. There's also strong support from Espen Skjonberg as Horten's new friend Trygve and from Henny Moan as the woman who runs the Bergen hotel that Horten's been frequenting for his entire train-driving career.

The Great
The film is beautifully shot throughout, especially the scenes of trains driving through the white snowy landscapes. In addition, Hamer orchestrates some wonderfully memorable sequences, such as Horten being ferried all over the airport in search of his friend or the Choo Choo salute given to him at his retirement party.

Worth seeing?
In short, O’Horten is a delightfully quirky, frequently moving film with an amazing lead performance and a distinctly Scandinavian sense of humour. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

O'Horten (PG)
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Content updated: 18/01/2019 17:50

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