Director Bent Hamer hits a high note with this visually arresting film about a retiring railway engineer. Baard Owe plays Odd Horten, an extremely reticent bachelor who, at 67, is preparing to end the only life he knows: running a train from Oslo to the icier north. Then strange things happen in stunningly well-composed scenes: Odd is held hostage by a 7-year-old. He rides with a blindfolded driver through the dark streets of Oslo. He sleeps in a room with a meteor. He loses his pipe. Though the story uses the “man who never lived his life awakens to the possibilities” trope, it does it with such style and such unusual and inventive vignettes that one can forgive the somewhat stock ending. Easily the prettiest and most smartly photographed film of the year, O’Horten
is also charming, funny and Norwegian—very Norwegian, in the way that only ski-jumping and the envious hatred of Swedes can be.