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O' Horten Reviews

Page 1 of 11
Alexis N

Super Reviewer

October 11, 2010
I thought it would be a funny little story about a guy having a hard time settling in to retirement. But not so much. It wasn't funny, aside from one scene with an adorable little boy and for the most part it was boring. It had the potential, it just let me down in a really slow, painful way.
gor41
gor41

Super Reviewer

September 26, 2009
Typically melancholic meditation on retirement encased in a meandering plot where the lead bumps into a host of eccentrics who aid his introspection. Slight but not without charm.
Ross C

Super Reviewer

May 9, 2009
The retirement of a train driver provides more philosophical musings from Scandinavia with a touch of dry humour. Some nice cinematography and scenes of Norwegian life, but this isn't really an attention grabbing movie, just slow, light entertainment.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 24, 2010
"O'Horten" is an odd little movie about an unassuming man named Odd(Baard Owe). Living alone, the only person he feels a connection to is his mother(Kari Loland). Turning 67, he is retiring from his job as a railway engineer. His plan is to fly back after his last run but oversleeps in a room not his own.(Long story, trust me.) Even after that, he continues to wear his uniform. And after watching life pass him by for so many decades, he has not decided what to do next which leads him on a series of low key adventures, shot in a deadpan style.

In the end, "O'Horten" has little else to say on the subject of retirement and growing older except the light at the end of the tunnel may not be an oncoming train. However, the film does have a well-crafted message about how women should be allowed to compete in ski jumping. If you have the cojonoes to perform in this sport, then gender is totally irrelevant.
Mark A

Super Reviewer

July 18, 2010
Off-beat tale that moves very slowly. Odd Horten (Baard Owe) is forced into retirement from his long-time job as a passenger train engineer and finds a host of small adventures to fill his days and nights. He seems to operate without any clear sense of what he wants to do with the rest of his life, but reacts to each improbable situation as it confronts him. There are many scenes that defy explanation and are almost surreal. In the end, it seems to say that the journey is more important than the destination and that sometimes there simply is no destination. And that is alright, too. Quirky characters, a loose script that seems at times to have no clear sense of direction, and the frigid, stark scenery of winter in Norway combine to give the film an almost dream-like quality at times. Each item taken by itself would doom most films but work together here to create a tapestry, revealing a man seeking to break out of the strict routine of his former life.
lesleyanorton
lesleyanorton

Super Reviewer

February 22, 2010
Odd Horten is a just-retired Norwegian train driver coming to grips with a life that was mostly filled with, well, being a train driver mostly. A slow paced film (if you've seen KITCHEN STORIES by the same director you'll know how fast it moves) but even if nothing much happens, it glows iwith a reassuring demonstration that yes, there is life after 67 (should you be lucky enough to reach it) and gentle solitary lives too have their merits.
mingsysar
mingsysar

Super Reviewer

May 29, 2009
Where's the point? It could've been the acting, directing or editing, but there was something a bit off about this film, or collection of vignettes more like. I suppose each action, situation or decision had something deep and meaningful behind it, but I'll be damned if I knew what it was. The whole film felt like an amateur exercise, where there are lots of ideas but they just aren't delivered. I could've done with more explanations, more obvious meaning and more characterisation, just... more.
July 7, 2011
odd, like the main character here is complelling and watchable but slow & plodding the main character is fascinatinting
May 31, 2014
A retired railroad engineer takes a personal journey, and you will want to join him.
soultiger
February 10, 2014
'O' stands for Odd, the lead characters first name, and which sort of typifies this quirky, mysterious little film.
July 20, 2013
A comedy so deadpan that it starts feeling a little too aimless and distant. O'Horten looks great and its bizarre moments make it interesting, however it lacks a little something in its ability to establish a connection with the audience.
August 25, 2012
Deep in the barren Hardangervidda, southern central Norway, a train thunders by every so often. What with it being difficult to track down the infrequent ski resorts, villages or even the odd wind-rustled tree around here, the area is mostly silent. It is perhaps apt, then, that O'Horten, Bent Hamer's followup to 2003's sleeper hit Kitchen Stories (Salmer Fra Kjøkkenet), reveals itself to the viewer to a series of near-mute, chiaroscuro shots of engine rooms, stations and tunnels only to suddenly explode out into the open, canyon-carved wilderness of the Hardanger Mountain Plateau. John Eric Kaada's monumental soundtrack theme bellows over the top of a train snaking its way through the flimsy piece of string that is the track, weaving in and out of the rock face with elegance and grandiose. The scale of it all plays out like a winter version of Lawrence of Arabia.

The film, from start to finish, is a simple character study of Odd Horten, driver of said train, a conservative 67 year-old Norwegian man who drags behind him a life of all work and no play. He has nothing to say for himself, let alone his time on the planet. He just has to complete his last ever trip of to-ing and fro-ing between Bergen on the west coast and Oslo in the east, then he can retire into obscurity, to be forgotten, just how he'd like it. On the eve of his retirement, a misunderstanding causes him to be locked out of his own party, and so, climbing through the window of a neighbour, he is stopped by a small boy and appears to befriend him. The film then proceeds to do something totally unexpected.

What is so charming, so clever and so entertaining about O'Horten is that it never stops wheeling out its endless arsenal of random events, leading some to claim it's a take on existentialism and the meaning of life. For instance, Nordahl, the small boy, is in one scene only, and he's never seen again. Bent Hamer's creation here is a series of random events that are seemingly unrelated but, in reality, all have a common link; Horten himself. The events may have happened and the time will have passed without him, but Odd goes through all this mess with us. There are no ups, no downs, nothing truly remarkable happens and yet we still never have a moment to catch our breath. Falling asleep in a sauna, walking the streets of Oslo wearing high heels, meeting a schizophrenic man who believes he can drive blindfolded, selling a boat, ski jumping, swimming with lesbians and being arrested for smoking a pipe in the middle of Gardermoen airport taxiway; you name it, Odd's been there.

Never taking itself too seriously (or seriously at all for that matter), O'Horten plods along from A to Z without any revelations, without drama, without a denouement. What's more, set to the backdrop of urban Oslo (and John Eric Kaada's simply breathtaking score), it barely has any style to speak of. It's not colourful or visually thrilling, but it has something found in all Hamer films - comedic timing. It's got humour by the bucketloads, taking aim at anything from the bizarre, true-to life shortness with which the Norwegians address each other to the totally ridiculous instances of a man's ice-maker flooding his house with ice cubes, two characters starting a conversation with

"Can you believe Nissan is Japanese?"
"... It certainly doesn't sound Japanese."
"Maybe if it were Swedish..."

O'Horten is, at heart, a beautiful, heartfelt celebration of humankind; a reminder that life is interesting and exciting without car chases, without murder, without anything really happening at all. Life is entertaining even at its dullest moments, and while some may find this excruciatingly scrutinised vision of the passing time dull or lacking in bite, to me, Bent Hamer has created a sly little comedy using nothing more than the natural humour of, well, people. What they say, how they act, what they do and why. Nothing more, nothing less; whatever goes, goes, and from where the viewer is standing, the film is often heavily unbalanced, completely unstructured and the narrative is totally baffling, but hey, that fits the story, right? We wouldn't have it any other way.
July 12, 2011
Norway is full of natural treasures. There is ice. There are fjords. And there's Bent Hamer.


Hamer's latest film "O' Horten," was originally released in 2007, and has spent the last few years navigating the mystical and convoluted path that every foreign film must take to reach the shelves of your local video store.


Very early on, you realize that "O' Horten," both literally and figuratively, is an ocean away from Hollywood. It''s hard to categorize, and even harder to summate. The film follows Odd Horten, a 67-year-old train engineer, on the eve of his retirement. I suppose it could be called a late-in-life coming of age tale, or a deadpan comedy about an old dog learning old tricks. To reduce the film into a synopsis, though, is to rob it of its stately and subtle charm. It is the human response to outlandish circumstance which defines the film, and in this way, Odd's journey through the film is paramount to his destination.


"O' Horten" is very aware of its surroundings. It utilizes the Nordic winter as a character per se, a technique that is unobtrusively reinforced by the beautiful cinematography. Every other aspect of the film is a similar lesson in restraint. The production stays out your way, letting the characters quietly have their say, and allowing Hamer's strange vision to thrive.


Odd is flawlessly rendered by film veteran Baard Owe, who gives a master class in dramatic delicacy, carefully and laboriously crafting the incremental unfolding of Odd.


Silence plays an important role in Hamer's films, and to those accustomed to American films, the dialogue can seem sparse. However, each and every performance is careful and sentient, and even the briefest of interactions are worthwhile.


Hamer approaches the film with the same whimsy and complexity that has marked his work heretofore.


His approach to character is unorthodox, but effective. Rather than implement a traditional development structure, Hamer drops Odd unceremoniously into the bizarre. Among a wealth of other strange occurrences, Odd wanders the icy streets of Oslo in red high-heels, takes a midnight drive with a blind motorist, and in one of the film's best and most dreamlike scenes, watches as a dignified gentleman glides, seated , down an ice covered street. Odd's movement through the story is intuitive, but each event feels more like a vignette than means to a dramatic end. Despite the episodic feel of the happenings, cohesion is never sacrificed. It's impossible to guess where Odd is headed, but every step seems to have its place.


"O'Horten" is Scandinavian filmmaking its best - droll, but profound. Unique, but accessible. Ethereal, but never without focus. Most impressively of all, "O'Horten" manages to gently imbue its melancholy with a sense of hope - an indomitable warmth beneath so much snow.
September 4, 2011
I look forward to seeing world cinema on BBC4 and CH4 in the UK and this was no exception, although as I watched this film I wondered why I was bothering, but the strangest thing happened, after several weeks I am still thinking about the film and feel the need to watch it again, its warm melancholy is infectious stuff.
June 28, 2011
Odd tale about a man named Odd who has to learn again how to live following his retirement. It's quirky, often rather funny, and it brings you into its world gently but completely.
February 6, 2011
This film was very little. But it still gets 4 stars.
David H.
November 22, 2010
Beautiful, Melanchonica & Absurd Deadpan Comedy about Expression of Life I really should visit Norway one Day
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 24, 2010
"O'Horten" is an odd little movie about an unassuming man named Odd(Baard Owe). Living alone, the only person he feels a connection to is his mother(Kari Loland). Turning 67, he is retiring from his job as a railway engineer. His plan is to fly back after his last run but oversleeps in a room not his own.(Long story, trust me.) Even after that, he continues to wear his uniform. And after watching life pass him by for so many decades, he has not decided what to do next which leads him on a series of low key adventures, shot in a deadpan style.

In the end, "O'Horten" has little else to say on the subject of retirement and growing older except the light at the end of the tunnel may not be an oncoming train. However, the film does have a well-crafted message about how women should be allowed to compete in ski jumping. If you have the cojonoes to perform in this sport, then gender is totally irrelevant.
Scott Jonathan
July 27, 2010
Because. A story of where we find ourselves, where we remember ourselves, where we...where we must, for ourselves.
Just Say Maybe
July 26, 2010
A wonderful character study. Wonderful acting, beautifully filmed, and a lush score. I really didn't want it to end.
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