Maturity, loneliness and the inherent freedoms of breaking with routine are investigated in delightful sixth feature from the gifted Norwegian filmmaker of Kitchen Stories and Factotum. Odd Horten (Baard Owe) is about to retire. After 40 years as a train driver between Oslo and Bergen, the 67-year-old O’Horten has become an overly cautious and meticulous man. When a series of bizarre unexpected events force O’Horten to break his routine he finds himself on a physical and mental journey of realisation and change.
Writer/director Bent Hamer has fashioned something sweet and likeable out of material that could so easily have been maudlin and unsettling. Essentially a road movie albeit one without a clear chronology, and guided by a kind of benign existential philosophy, O’Horten is essentially a film about mothers and sons and the connections and destinies that run between them. O’Horten’s trip into the unknown is actually guided by the dreams of his now senile mother – on discovering a secret about her he is driven to pay homage to her. There’s a beautiful circularity to it all, one that buckles at the inherent ageism of the age and leads one to believe that there may just be wisdom in years. The fantastic Norwegian cast, all well known theatre and film actors in their homeland, are a joy and John Erik Kaad’s poignant soundtrack is quite special. For tobacco fiends this is also one of the best smoking films in a while.
GFT, Glasgow from Fri 8. Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 29 May.