Tuesday, June 1, 2010

O Horten

After 40 years of as a train engineer, Odd Horten (Baard Owe, nominated for the Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor.  What is a Chlotrudis Award?  An award given by the Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film, of course.) is retiring.  His routine lifestyle, as regular as the railroad schedule, is about to change, and he's not sure what to do.  We meet him on the day of his retirement dinner.  His fellow conductors put on a dinner party, then return to an apartment to continue the celebration.   Horten never quite makes it, and begins a series of improbable events and experiences that throw him off the rails and help him realize the life he's been missing.
He spends the night by the bedside of a child, and disappears in the morning like a dream.  He stays after closing time at the pool for a swim sans suit, and gets some unexpected company; again, he disappears like a ghost.  He meets a mysterious, delusional drunk who tells stories of his fictional travels and likes to drive blindfolded.  Seeking his friend, who works at the airport, he is taken on an impromptu tour of the airport, ending up smoking his pipe in the middle of the runway.  And he finally realizes the dream his mother had for him.

This is not quite The Bucket List, but it tells a similar story: why not step outside of your routine and see what else life has to offer?  Like Horten, some wait until they retire.  Others take the opposite tack, casting away responsibility and routine for the unexpected and out of the ordinary.  Surely there is a balance to be had there.  I enjoyed Owe's understated performance.  The mood and pace of the film seemed just right for a 67-year-old man's rediscovering the delights of life.  The film fits what I imagine the country and people of Norway to be: not unfriendly, but orderly, and a little gray.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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