Telluride Review: Bent Hamer's O'Horten

August 30, 2008

Bent Hamer's O'Horten

Following my screening of Flame and Citron, I caught Bent Hamer's O'Horten, an amusing drama about the life of a train engineer from Norway after he retires. Bård Owe charmingly embodies a lonely conductor who has driven a train through the snowy mountains of Norway for over 40 years. When he finally retires, and misses his last train due to a faulty door at a friend's apartment, he spends his next few days meeting new friends and getting into all sorts of quirky mishaps. Unfortunately the film is a bit too slow and a bit too sloppy to be truly entertaining, but there are some magical moments that had me smiling.

The film kicks off with a wonderful journey through the mountains and tunnels that make up Odd Horten's route. The score, composed by Norwegian group Kaada, adds a wonderful touch to many of these magical scenes and throughout most of the movie, which was a definite highlight. Owe's portrayal of the humble and quiet Horten is definitely impressive, but not necessarily at the emotional levels I was hoping for, but it's hard to critique someone that charming. The film attempts to show you the rather eclectic experiences that Horten goes through after retiring, but the end result is a bit of a mess - the film really needed some actual direction and some actual progression to the story, rather than just a collection of experiences.

I'll admit that this was an incredibly hard film to review. It evokes such love and appreciation for Horten more than any need for criticism. It's almost like a piece of art - I'd rather sit back and enjoy it if I can and let others, like Leonard Maltin (who was in attendance at my screening), enjoy it more of they so choose. Everyone can admire this by themselves because it has so much to offer with its emotion and outlook on life. The opening and the ending were both fantastic and Kaada's score held maintain the cold atmosphere of Norway, in combination with John Christian Rosenlund's stunning camera work. Overall a solid film that I'm sure older people near retirement or in retirement will enjoy a lot more than me.

Telluride Rating: 6 out of 10

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