O'Horten Hears a Choo Choo
If you've never watched a foreign movie and come across "O'Horten" my advice is to watch some other foreign movies first before tackling this one. It's not that "O'Horten" is a bad movie, but it is quite disjointed and like its characters name a bit odd which makes it hard work if you are not accustomed to this sort of thing. But if you are use to foreign movies then "O'Horten" is strangely charming, seriously quirky in a bemusing quiet sort of way which leads you to often wondering what it's all about.
For almost 40 years Odd Horten (Baard Owe) has worked as a train driver and now as he enters the last week of his working career he has to face a different life without routine. But before that happens he finds himself getting lost on the night of the party to honour him leading to him somehow being in the bedroom of a young boy who asks him to sit with him till he falls asleep. This misadventure leads to others from taking a drive with a man who is blind folded to finding himself adopting a dog. All of which leads him to question how he should lead his life now the routine of 40 years is over.
I'm going to say it again "O'Horten" is an odd movie as are so many deadpan comedies but it is odd for other reasons to. I could almost describe it as being off this world but not of this world because what we get is a series of events in Odd's life after his retirement which are simply odd. The initial dinner with his driving buddies when they sing a "choo choo" song is strange but not as strange when this quiet 67 year old scales scaffolding and ends up sitting in the bedroom of a young boy as he waits for him to go to sleep. It seems out of character and not real for this straight faced man of routine to do such a thing yet it is also amusing.
That is the formula which continues through out the movie as Odd has these various encounters from a late night skinny dipping which ends up with him in wrong shoes to meeting a man who says he can drive blindfolded. It is all very strange and is why that if you are not accustomed to foreign movies it can become hard to follow and appreciate. I will admit I found myself wondering what it was getting to as everything seems so disjointed.
You do finally work out what "O'Horten" is about because it is Odd discovering without routine his life is full of craziness and uncertainty which whilst doesn't faze him does cause him to assess what he plans to do now he is retired. I won't say what he does other than to say that it is a perfect ending to a movie which for a long period of time never felt like it was going to get anywhere.
Aside from this odd storyline of disjointed events director Bent Hamer has crafted a nice movie with the opening visual of a journey by train from Odds point of view being stunning and symbolic. But it is also Baard Owe as Odd Horten who makes it work and he has this strange presence of something like a silent movie star. I don't remember Odd talking much but the look he gives, which is often strangely motionless, ends up being so comically funny, it's almost a case that his lack of response to those around him which makes it amusing and then even more so when he does occasionally show some sort of emotion.
What this all boils down to is that "O'Horten" is an entertaining but odd movie from Norway which whilst eventually revealing itself does feel very disjointed. It is why I say again that if you are not accustomed to foreign movies then watch others first before tackling this deadpan delight.