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Norway/Germany/France 2007
Directed by
Bent Hamer
90 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


There’s clearly something about the pristine white landscape of Scandinavia that tends its filmmakers to melancholy reflection, ironic minimalism and black comedy. From Bergman to Kaurismaki the sensibility is unmistakable (a similar observation might be made of Canadian film).

O'Horten, which would make an entertainingly contrasting double bill with Alexander Payne's About Schmidt (2002), tells the story of 67-year-old Odd Horten (Baard Owe) a just-retired train driver, an unassuming, pipe-smoking little man who has faithfully applied himself to his job for 40 years. Oddly (there is some kind of pun at work here) whilst his working life has run strictly to time his last day goes somewhat awry and a series of oddball adventures begin. Sometimes, Horten learns, not following the schedule is a good thing.

O'Horten is a quietly poignant film with its slightly surreal eccentricities played tongue-in-cheek (René Magritte would have loved it) and its evocative visuals of the snow-covered Norwegian countryside offset with a delightful country bluesy score. It's slow-moving, persistently whimsical film and if you're in a chilled mood, a delicious one.




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