O' Horten

O' Horten movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Foreign
On the night of his retirement, Odd Horten has a life changing moment. In Norwegian with subtitles.
Starring: Baard Owe, Espen Skjonberg, Ghita Norby
Director: Bent Hamer
Running time: 1:30
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Editorial Review

The recently retired title character of "O' Horten" is a cinematic cousin to Warren Schmidt of "About Schmidt," the 2002 movie in which Jack Nicholson played a reserved man whose retirement confuses rather than liberates him. Both Horten and Schmidt are agreeable career men who are just learning to operate in a world that no longer accommodates their habits. While "About Schmidt" is tart, accessible and ultimately moving, "O' Horten" is dry, distant and slightly absurdist -- in a word, it's more Scandinavian.

And there isn't a better film in theaters to make you forget about the heat and humidity. Filmed mostly during nights in Norway, "O' Horten" is all ice and falling snow and leather jackets and frosty clouds of breath. The main character is an engineer who pilots wormlike bullet trains through the white-clad valleys of the country. On the day of his retirement, he misses his final ride and a bizarre, dreamlike sequence of events unfolds. Norwegian actor Baard Owe barely changes his kind, calm expression as he encounters a string of odd situations.

"O' Horten" is almost pulseless, a stoic odyssey for a man who couldn't be further from Odysseus. The director is Bent Hamer, whose last movie was "Factotum," the Bukowski adaptation with Matt Dillon. Here, Hamer again shows a knack for capturing the neutered weariness of the isolated male at the end of his rope. Depending on your patience for oddball mood pieces, you will either sleep through "O' Horten" or be oddly captivated. Either way, it'll be like dreaming.

-Dan Zak