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Friday, May 29, 2015

O'HORTEN (2007)

After a discouraging shot at Stateside filmmaking (FACTOTUM/’05), Bent Hamer returned to his native Norway for this modest-to-a-fault coming-of-retirement-age fable. Odd O’Horten is a 67 yr-old train engineer who misses his own farewell after-party; misses his final train run; misses the lights-out call at his health club; heck, even his favorite pipe goes missing. With few acquaintances, let alone friends, only his mother holds an emotional claim, and she’s lost to senility. Yet, over the course of a few days, while trying to find a rhythm to his new life as retiree, Odd (yep, that’s his first name) has a series of serendipitous meetings, adventures & personal revelations that wake up his inner life, a world of regrets & feelings he never thought he had in him. It’s easy to see what Hamer’s aiming at, but Odd’s near Job-like acceptance of what’s next is nearer to pathological passivity than to the classic Holy Fools of, say, Peter Sellers’ Chance in BEING THERE/’79 or silent clown Harry Langdon. They brought us along on their journeys to unlikely bliss, Odd just wants to keep his pipe lit.

DOUBLE-BILL: Often lumped together with Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, the comparison does Hamer few favors. Try an early Kaurismäki like SHADOWS IN PARADISE/’86 or ARIEL/’88, marvels of supple wit, color composition, legerdemain narrative, believable character reversals, and big unexpected laughs.

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