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O’ Horten

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
Leaving aside comedy dogs, one of the emerging themes of this year’s cinema is ageing – specifically the wit, wonder, sadness and humour that long experience brings with it. We’ve had Michael Caine as a conflicted old magician in ‘Is Anybody There?’ and soon to come is a vision of geriatric love in ‘Cloud 9’. But now we can enjoy Bård Owe (below) as Odd Horten, a 67-year-old Norwegian train driver who goes through a long, dark night of the soul in Oslo a few days after hanging up his timetable for the last time.

After attending a party at which his colleagues see him off by pretending to be steam engines and playing a game of ‘guess the platform announcement’, Horten settles into retirement by embarking on a mini-odyssey. He goes for a nighttime swim, sells his cherished boat, meets an intriguing stranger whose house, full of bric-à-brac, betrays a life spent working as a foreign diplomat. All the while, Horten remains a quizzical onlooker, interested but removed, engaged but almost speechless. His journey into a new stage of life is reflected in everything and everyone around him.

You may remember director Bent Hamer from his 2004 film, ‘Kitchen Stories’, and this tightly focused fable – essentially a road movie in one city – displays a similar eccentric touch, sly humour and quiet approach to male emotions. The lack of dialogue and careful tableaux (dark with splashes of colour, superbly lit) recall Aki Kaurismäki, while the flashes of daft, visual humour (a motorcyclist sliding down a hill moments after a warning of freezing rain) are worthy of Roy Andersson. Thoughtful, funny, slightly sad and superbly crafted.
Written by Dave Calhoun

Release Details

  • Rated:12A
  • Release date:Friday 8 May 2009
  • Duration:90 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Bent Hamer
  • Screenwriter:Bent Hamer
  • Cast:
    • Bård Owe
    • Espen Skjønberg
    • Ghita Nørby
    • Baard Owe
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