The Norwegian film O’Horten is about a lonely, quiet man, named Odd Horten (Bard Owe). Odd is forced into retirement after working as a train engineer for 40 years. His methodical life is suddenly turned upside down once he is no longer operating a train. In response to his loss, he attempts to change his life a little too quickly. He decides to sell his treasured boat, fly on an airplane, and start ski-jumping. These little goals, he set for himself, prove to be disastrous. The misadventures of Odd Horten turn the film, what could be a pretty boring films, into a quirky and universally identifiable film.
Actor, Bard Owe, was the perfect fit for the role. Odd does not speak very much throughout the film, he is withdrawn and socially awkward. Odd would like to be more sociable, but he really doesn’t know how; it was a skill he never acquired. Instead, his personality shines through his subtle facial expressions. The scenarios Odd finds himself in were so absurd, yet believable. They don’t feel forced or contrived; as outlandish as the scenarios may have been, you aren’t distracted by them. They were charming and added a bit of warmth to Odd. In Odd’s world, trying to sell a boat ends up in a cavity search by airport security. These moments add much needed humor to this heavy movie.
The visuals and the music really made the movie a bit more special. The visuals of the movie were stunning. The scenes of the high-speed train traveling through Norway’s snowy mountains was breathtaking, even the streets of the towns were beautiful. The director, Bent Hamer, contrasted the colors of the scenes. The homes tended to be very warm and vibrant, but the public settings were very cold and stark. The way the movie was filmed really adds to the secluded, lonely feel of the film. After watching the film, you realize there were very few people in the film. Many of the scenes of Odd are of him walking in a seemingly deserted city. The music for the film was really different than the music you hear would in an American film; it was very representative of the music style of Scandinavia and the surrounding countries. It was very dramatic with horns, chimes, and interesting beats. I loved it.
Hamer really did a fantastic job with the use of metaphors to develop Odd and open him up to the audience. The metaphors are really packed into the movie and it would take a long time to discuss them all. But I will tell you this, they are not empty metaphors, they are quite inspiring, and extremely fitting of the movie.
The only thing that bothered me was the development of the relationship between Odd and his mother, and the woman from the hotel. It was very clear that these were the two people who knew Odd the best, and there was a very special bond, but it was just left at that. I hoped the relationships would have been just a little bit more developed. Although this may not be viewed as a weak point by others, I hoped to know more about his mother and the female friend.
This movie is really well done. It will certainly strike a chord with the older generation, but younger people will definitely be able to relate. Loneliness is a part of the human condition, no matter how old you are or where you live. This movie does a great job at highlighting one man’s journey into a new chapter in his life and how to make the best of it. I would certainly recommend people to see the movie. It is a very touching and charming movie.
O’Horten will be released in a limited amount of theaters on May 22
Watch the trailer…