DVD O'Horten [2009] [Region 1] (DVD 4680486),
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O'Horten [2009] [Region 1]

  • PG-13
  • DVD
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • Odd Horten (Baard Owe) is a man with a lot of time on his hands. The character at the center of Bent Hamer's wry social comedy, O'HORTEN, is a former train driver who struggles to adjust to the freedoms of retirement. Hamer carefully outlines the rituals from Horten's working life: recurring visits to a local tobacconist to fuel his pipe-smoking habit, a pre-work routine in his Oslo apartment, and visits to a small-town hotel where the kindly female owner treats him with considerable fondness. Most of Hamer's movie takes place in the snow-covered Oslo night, where Horten encounters a series of erratic characters as his own behavior slides into nonconformity. The director fills his movie with little eccentricities that are rarely explained but often provoke amusement, such as the time Horten emerges from a late-night dip in a swimming pool, clad in a pair of red high-heeled shoes.

    O'HORTEN is a wonderfully amusing piece, with Hamer demonstrating his innate ability for offbeat comedy. The strange atmosphere and long silences are reminiscent of the work of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, and the oddball denizens of the Oslo night are similar to the way-out characters of Jim Jarmusch's MYSTERY TRAIN. Hamer's movie is a compelling exploration of a loner who has had all the familiarity stripped from his world, and flounders as he seeks to find meaning in a life shorn of routine. Owe's deadpan delivery is flawless, and his restrained performance offers few clues as to what is going on in Horten's head, requiring the audience to ponder the motivations for his increasingly peculiar behavior. The mixture of humor and poignancy are kept in a delicate balance throughout, with Hamer gently steering his small cast through a film full of richly rewarding subject matter.
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  • Credits
    Espen Skjonberg, Bjarte Hjelmeland, Per Jansen, Kai Remlov, Bjorn Floberg, Ghita Norby, Baard Owe, Henny Moan
  • Critic Reviews
    "Bard Owe commands full attention as O'Horten....He exudes a quiet optimism that's rarely seen in movies these days."
    Film Comment

    4 stars out of 5 -- "Writer/director Bent Hamer's humane, gently absurdist film has visual heft and beauty, plus a good natured-hero with whom moviegoers scattered across the age spectrum will be able to identify."
    Box Office

    "[T]his is a gentle comedy, both funny and melancholy, about a timid soul who discovers the necessity of embracing life in all its absurdity and unlooked-for joy."
    Los Angeles Times

    "[O'HORTEN is] made up of meticulously constructed, deadpan scenes that turn on Keatonesque visual jokes..."
    New York Times

    "[A] delightful film....Mr. Hamer, a poet of the droll and askew, sends the aptly named Odd -- it's also a common Norwegian name -- on a cockeyed journey from regret through comic confusion to a lovely eagerness for new adventures."
    Wall Street Journal

    "Like fellow poker-faced Scandinavian filmmaker Avi Kaurismaki, Hamer specializes in dry humor born of long, dark nights." -- Grade: B+
    Entertainment Weekly

    3.5 stars out of 4 -- "The thing about a deadpan comedy is, it has to think....O'HORTEN, a bittersweet whimsy by the Norwegian director Bent Hamer, finds that effortless."
    Chicago Sun-Times

    "O'HORTEN explores what happens when this quintessential company man loses his company....It's a film of subtle, insinuating charm, a character study about an eminently sane, reasonable man unsteadily navigating an increasingly insane, unreasonable world." -- Grade: B+
    A.V. Club

    Included in Chicago Sun-Times's "The Best Foreign Films Of 2009" -- "[A] bittersweet deadpan whimsy about a retiring engineer named Odd Horten."
    Chicago Sun-Times

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