Sunday, October 11, 2009

Movie Log: O'Horten

The Wife proclaimed O'Horten "slow" right around the one-hour mark, which can be a sign that she's losing patience with a movie. But she claimed to like it when it was done, so I suppose it wasn't too slow in the end.

And -- let's be honest -- an episodic movie about the first days of retirement of a Norwegian long-haul train engineer isn't likely to be a gripping thrill ride to begin with.

O'Horten has been praised lavishly by film critics, but we all know that what professional critics like best isn't always what audiences like best. (Critics, after all, have to see lots of movies, and so generally start to prefer novelty, while audiences often are looking for the same thing with a new wrapper.) I found it slight, and not entirely living up to all of the praise, but it is an amusing movie -- and the dreariness and depression that we expect from Norwegians never arrives.

Odd Horten has been driving trains for his entire life, and he's about to retire as the movie opens. He hasn't done much else in his life; his mother is unresponsive and living in some kind of care, and the closest thing Odd has to a girlfriend is a woman whom he rents a room from overnight in the city to which he drives his trains. Even his co-workers -- who are a pretty dorky lot, I have to admit, identifying train whistles from recordings at Odd's retirement party -- aren't close to Odd.

O'Horten is an episodic movie, but it does build as it goes along -- the episodes aren't completely separated. And things do keep happening to Odd: he finds himself in unusual situations quite a lot in what seems to be only three or four days. Don't go in expecting much of a plot, and you should enjoy it.

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