O'Horten Bent Hamer

O'Horten Bent Hamer
The DVD cover for O'Horten features the titular character, Odd Horten (Baard Owe), standing on front of a train in his conductor's outfit, holding an awkwardly large and despondent dog. His attire and expression are crisp, formal and professional, making the inclusion of the overweight dog somewhat alarming and amusing, more so in an eyebrow raising way than a laugh-out-loud funny one. It's an extremely apt cover for the film, as its dry, deadpan humour and lack of narrative convention define it. There really isn't much of a story to this tale of purposelessness in retirement, as the concern here is that of idiosyncratic tone while following Odd from one bizarre locale to the next. Essentially, after the 67-year-old train conductor retires, sent off with a rousing game of "name that train sound," he attempts to revisit the things in his life that mattered, such as old friends and haunts, winding up inappropriately in the way and quietly observing social insanity. One such peregrination finds him falling asleep in a public sauna, waking up in the middle of the night alone, only to take a dip in the pool where a couple of females decide to get a little "experimental." Losing his shoes, Odd flees in a pair of women's cowboy boots, stumbling upon a drunken inventor sleeping in the street, whose home he eventually stays at for a couple of days before going for a blindfolded drive, where his new friend dies of a heart attack. The fact that "it's all about the journey" probably won't surprise anyone after the not so subtle opening of trains and tunnels lets us know that this is a story of life, death and reflection, no matter how deliberately quirky. Regardless, an off-centre disposition and lack of predictability make this one quite entertaining to watch. Included with the DVD is a brief interview with writer/director Bent Hamer where he reinforces the lack of traditional narrative concern while his interviewer drinks a pint of beer. It is Europe, after all. (Sony)