O’Horten

ohorten2

How can a deadpan Norwegian drama dedicated to its maker’s mother “and all other female ski jumpers” not be interesting? Well, by being a little boring. But only a little. Writer-director Bent Hamer, who somehow made a delicate study of the life of Charles Bukowski in Factotum, now makes a delicate study of a fictional train engineer (Bård Owe), newly retired and slightly adrift in the snow-muted Oslo nights, where his prim life becomes a lot less predictable. Among the unusual characters he meets, for instance, is one stranger (Espen Skjønberg) who has occasion to demonstrate that “today is a beautiful day for driving blind.” John Christian Rosenlund’s cinematography and John Erik Kaada’s score add much to the finespun, frosty atmosphere, but the actors’ wryly restrained performances never fail to keep it warm. This is a peculiar film, rendered all the more dreamlike and mysterious in translation; it’s not for nothing that the protagonist’s first name is Odd.

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