Film review: An Odd retirement

In “O’Horten,” we meet a train conductor named Odd Horten. Played by Baard Owe, he is about to retir
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In “O’Horten,” we meet a train conductor named Odd Horten. Played by Baard Owe, he is about to retire at 67.

When his colleagues throw him a party, the highlight is a guessing game: Sitting around a table, they see if they can identify a train by its distinctive choo-choo sounds. They are in a world of their own, eternally stoical. Instead of a hearty farewell tune, the fellow conductors on the Bergen-to-Oslo run serenade the retiree with a mechanical refrain of “Choo-choo-choo-choo-choo-choo.”

Everything in “O’Horten” is as droll as its characters. It’s reversed slapstick, a work of odd revelations. It is, in essence, a meditation on the loneliness that often accompanies retirement. For many retirees it’s the end of the line. Life, real life, is over. It’s a formidable challenge for men and women who may wake up in the morning and find there is nothing to do; perhaps, no reason to live.

’O’Horten’

DIRECTED BY Bent Hammer

SCREENPLAY BY Bent Hammer

STARRING Baard Owe, Espen Skjornberg, Githa Norby, Bjorn Floberg, Kai Remlov and Henny Moan

RATED PG-13

RUNNING TIME 90 minutes

For Odd Horten, it is his first chance to reflect and engage. Though he has a lady in Oslo, it is a sterile affair. Odd Horten is a stoical virgin. With his new-found freedom, the movie tracks his gradual immersion into life. It’s a new beginning, a frigid excursion, and for us as well, a trip into the world of the absurd.

Locked out of his apartment, he finds himself in the room of a little boy. Nothing scandalous occurs, but by the time he awakes, he has missed his last run. On his way to meet a friend at an airport, he innocently walks on the runway before he is arrested. Odd Horten has never flown.

On it goes with other encounters. It’s a literal and metaphorical journey of self-discovery, a coming-of-age movie about a senior citizen.

No crescendos or explosive situations. It may well disarm moviegoers used to more hearty fare. I also found myself wondering, at first, where the movie is going. A day later, Odd Horten’s experiences stayed with me.

In years to come, I would not be surprised if this droll Norwegian comedy is hailed as a minimalist masterpiece.

Reach Gazette film critic Dan DiNicola at [email protected]

Categories: Life and Arts

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