Sara Vilkomerson’s Third Stringer: Train in Vain

The first name of the title character in O’Horten is Odd. This is apparently a common Norwegian name, but it also sets the mood for this quirky little film from Bent Hamer (Factotum). Odd Horten (a terrifically restrained Bård Owe) is a taciturn kind of man who has lived a quiet life, dedicated to his job as a train engineer. When retirement comes, and he misses his last scheduled train trip, the decidedly lost Horten ends up in increasingly surreal situations, including losing his shoes after a late-night naked (!) swim, and having to wear red heels out in the snow, and encountering an eccentric who likes to engage in blind driving (exactly what it sounds like, with the driver blindfolded gliding along empty and icy Oslo streets) and who gives Horten a fresh perspective on how life can still surprise—not easy for a man whose whole life has been lived according to a tight train schedule. There are plenty of comic moments, but this slow-paced film still feels deeply melancholic … unless that’s just a Norwegian thing. It does seem awfully cold and dark out there! But also, hauntingly beautiful—the cinematography in certain scenes will really knock your socks off. Opening May 22.