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