O' Horten Reviews
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.
O'Horten is a lovely combination of the usual and the unusual. It's so easy to pick favorite moments or images... From Odd falling asleep next to a kid who caught him sneaking through his apartment to get to the one adjacent, to the man he literally met in the street, and whose last minutes were spent driving in the early hours of the morning with a hat streched over his face, to the businessman casually SLIDING down the icy slope of the empty road to get to his destination.
It's so touchingly, profoundly understated, this little film. It contains some similarities to "About Schmidt" (another favorite movie of mine), certainly, but is at the same time a very different piece.
Everybody who likes movies should watch O'Horten. Even if Odd doesn't like the limelight.
Odd is a very quiet sort who has almost nothing to say, even at his own retirement dinner (where his colleagues stand and salute him by rotating their right arms to simulate the wheels of an old fashioned locomotive and then simultaneously pull pretend whistles and let out a collective "whoo whoo" sound). Yikes.
Odd lives alone in Oslo with his bird and relaxes by smoking his pipe and drinking a beer or two alone in the pub. He keeps in shape by swimming and visits his elderly non-verbal mother regularly. Though he's pleasant enough with those he encounters, he appears to have no actual friends.
O'Horten (no clue where the O-apostrophe comes from), follows Odd in the days immediately following his retirement. Though I'm sure the intent is deadpan humor, I found several scenes to be more uncomfortable than amusing.
Odd's troubles begin the night of his retirement, when a broken door buzzer leads him to scale external stairwells and scaffolding in an attempt to reach a party in one of his colleague's apartments, before he's eventually caught by a little boy while sneaking through his family's apartment.
Next comes another emotionless scene which has Odd attempting to meet up with a man who works at the airport in order to sell him his boat. He's shuttled back and forth from one gate to the next, is picked up by airport security for standing in the middle of a runway, and ends up being strip searched when a sniffer dog singles him out for scrutiny.
Finally, Odd falls asleep in the sauna of the local gymnasium and doesn't wake up until after it's closed for the night. He goes for a nude swim, only to have a couple of young girls who don't realize he's there jump into the pool and start making out. Once safely back in the locker room, he discovers his shoes are stolen and he's forced to go home in a pair of red pumps.
Maybe I just don't get Norwegian humor, but for me, watching the hapless Odd go from one awkward situation to the next isn't funny; it's squirm-inducing.
Fortunately, it isn't all like this. When Odd is allowed to simply live his life and interact with people without being placed in contrived, embarrassing situations, the film is much more interesting and enjoyable.
The truth is, I wanted to like O'Horten a lot more than I actually did. I loved the character of Odd. It's just a shame that the writers felt the need to so disrupt his normal life for what I can only assume was meant to be the audience's amusement.