Odd Horten (Bard Owe) knows who he is and what he does. He's a driver for the train, and has spent so many years on the same route that he knows it instinctively; he has his work, he has his life. But in Bent Hamer's O' Horten, which played in the Un Certain Regard selection this year at Cannes (and has since been picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics), Horten has to face the fact that his life, as he knows it, is changing; he's hit retirement age, and he simply has no clue what to do next.
Hamer's earlier films had a finely-tuned capacity for observation, perhaps best demonstrated in Eggs (1995) and Kitchen Stories (2003); Hamer's English-language debut, Factotum (2005), took the boozy, woozy prose of Charles Bukowski and put a little air and space in it, turning the alcohol-fueled anger of Bukowski's words which, on the page, hit like a shot of cheap whiskey and turning them into something smoother and finer with the smooth burn of regret going down. In O'Horten, Hamer's back in Norway, and still crafting careful, considered portraits of day to day life, but ones which nonetheless have a deadpan comedy to them, a careful and humane sense of the absurd.