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cover: O'Horten (2008)

O'Horten (2008)

Director(s): Bent Hamer

Theatrical Release: 2008

Cast: Bard Owe, Espen Skjonberg, Ghita Norby, Bjorn Floberg, Kai Remlov, Henny Moan

Genre(s): Drama, Comedy

Countries: Norway, Denmark, France, Germany (East/West)


Location in store: Scandinavian Cinema

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Running Time: 90m.

Odd Horten is a neat, meticulous, pipe-smoking train conductor, winding up 40 years of service for the Norwegian railways. O'Horten poses the following question: When a man's life has been determined by timetables and clearly-defined journeys along narrow tracks, how does he spend his free hours? Director Bent Hamer provides the answer in this droll comedy, which follows Odd Horten about his final work shifts and then into the uncertain world of retirement. Scandinavian comedies tend toward the deadpan and the melancholic, and Hamer (whose Kitchen Stories was a similarly wonderful exercise) clearly likes working in that vein. It helps that lead actor Baard Owe perfectly fits this style: if Odd Horten is ever troubled or excited by much, it rarely registers across Owe's leathery, imperturbable face. Horten meets the dilemma of buying a new pipe with the same placid curiosity he brings to meeting a stranger who invites him to his home and proposes they test the stranger's theory that he can drive a car with his eyes closed. Why not? Hamer's poker-faced approach is especially useful because it disguises an old-fashioned story of a regimented man waking up to flexibility in the winter of his life, a possibly sentimental theme given a brisk treatment. Odd Horten wouldn't have it any other way. (Robert Horton)
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