Not quite the absurdist gem that was Bent Hamer's 2004 release, Kitchen Stories, the Norwegian director's O'Horten is nonetheless a deadpan delight.

A placid, pipe-puffing train engineer, Odd Horten (Baard Owe), retires from a life dedicated to the railroad - accepting a trophy from his comrades - and falls into a series of curious encounters. He's a loner, this Odd fellow, accustomed to running his trains on time, living a life of quiet, comfortable routine.

But on his own, without a train to run, Odd's thrown off track. He loses his beloved pipe. He meets a young boy (in a wonderfully awkward, inadvertent apartment break-in) and an elderly diplomat (who insists on driving his vintage Citroen blindfolded). Late at night, Horten accidentally spies a pair of giggly nymphs frolicking naked in a closed swimming pool.

A sweet reverie about old age, solitude, companionship, and adventure, O'Horten actually shares quite a bit thematically, and even visually, with Pixar's Up! Hamer is a meticulous filmmaker whose compositions have a still-life resonance about them, and he frames his shots beautifully. His pacing, though slow, never misses a beat.

Owe, wearing his leather engineer's jacket and an expression of watchful quietude, holds the screen with soulful comic angst. His Odd Horten is indeed odd, but strangely inspiring, too.EndText

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.