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In a world of big blockbuster movies, it is wonderful to know that there are still films like "Elling"--even if it is subtitled from Norwegian. The interactions between the characters throughout the film require superb acting and they get it. Elling and Kjell Bjarne who are mentally re-acclimating to society live together and play off of each other's quirks evoking comedy and sympathy in a fine balance. Kjell Bjarne, a large slob, and Elling, a fragile man suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and removal anxiety from his mother, evoke laughter and sympathy. It is a pity that films like "Elling" are so rare compared to the huge-budget monstrosities we call entertainment. Films like "Elling" bring the art back into film-making.
Few films warm my heart with the regularity of "Elling." (I make it a point to watch it about once a month.) Though the film lacks most of the ingredients for widespread commercial success (big stars, lots of sex, action, etc.) its appeal, to me, are its unremitting warmth and charm; and I was gratified to see "The Academy" (the Oscar folks) recognize its beauty, as well ("Elling" was a "Best Foreign Film" nominee.) You will not regret picking up "Elling." However, I heartily recommend the "subtitled" version; avoid the "dubs!" The subtlety, nuance, and beauty of the Norwegian language are one of the film's "uncredited characters." I recommend "Elling" without reservation.
Greetings again from the darkness. Can't say I ever remember seeing a film from Norway, but this is a delightful, charming, touching little film that most people will find entertaining. Two grown men are released from a state home and set-up in their own apartment in Oslo. Watching their somewhat torturous adjustment to "normal" life is both painful and amusing. Lead character, Elling, stumbles upon his innate talent of writing poetry, but his fear of recognition forces him to be quite creative in finding his audience. Roommate Kjel is a sweaty mechanic with a heart of gold and stated desire to meet girls. Their journey is intertwined with guidance from a previously famous writer, their social case worker, and a pregnant neighbor. Many laughs throughout, but also a nice message. Go ahead ... answer the phone.
I doubt how many North Americans have heard of this Norwegian film, but
I'm glad I discovered it. I've watched it twice and been very
entertained by it. One warning for those inspired to check this out:
the first half hour can be a bit boring, but stick with it and you'll
be rewarded with a very funny, charming film.
The story centers around two guys who are released out of a state mental hospital and given an apartment to live in (with a probation-type officer keeping tabs on how they're adjusting.) At first, it's tough as they guys are kind of clueless on how to do things on their own, particularly "mama's boy" Elling who is even afraid to use a telephone. His roommate is a big oaf whose main concern in life is to have sex with a woman.
In time, these guys learn nicely how to adjust. Even better, they make a friend or two and help those people with their problems. That's where the charm of the film comes in. Most of the humor is provided by "Elling," who narrates the film with some wonderful dry humor. At first, his whining gets annoying but after he calms down in his new surroundings, he's fun. His roommate winds up as a straight man for his jokes. The roommate, "Kjell Bjarne," is a big help to everyone including a pregnant, abandoned lady. He's an oaf, but one with a big heart.
This is really different and nice story. It's not for kids with a dozen or so s and f- words, but kids wouldn't like this film anyway. The movie will leave the rest of you with a smile on your face.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
During the opening credits we learn that the title character was a "momma's
boy." When she dies he is about 40, and he has to be be forcibly removed
from the house (actually he's huddling in a closet) by the police. He is
taken to a mental institution where he has a roommate named Kjell Bjarne,
who is a very large man who is obsessed with food and women (although he is
quite naive about the latter), and unfamiliar with personal hygiene. Elling
makes up stories, mostly about women, which Kjell Bjarne initially takes as
the truth, and when he finds out that they are fiction he asks Elling to
continue telling them.
Very shortly into the film, Elling and Kjell Bjarne are given a small government paid apartment in downtown Oslo. They are put under the occasional care of Frank Åsli, a social worker who lets them know that they need to take care of themselves or they will be sent back to the mental institution. But this is *much* more easily said than done. Elling's first trip to the grocery store, which is made under extreme duress, is a complete fiasco. And both of them are afraid to answer the phone.
There are a couple of other significant characters who enter the story a bit later, although in the spirit of not giving away too much, I won't go into any more detail.
I found this film utterly charming both times I have seen it, most recently on 7/2/2002. The first time was at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was my second favorite film of the 43 I saw there. There isn't anything flashy about it, and it might move a bit slowly for some, but it is very well made and acted by all concerned, and the story shows the trials and the joy of everyday life and of friendship. It was one of the final nominees for the best foreign language film Academy Award for 2001. If you don't set your expectations sky high, I think you will be very pleased that you saw this little gem.
Remakes: According to IMDb, this film is scheduled to be remade by Trigger Street in 2003. Trigger Street is the production company of Kevin Spacey, although there are conflicting rumors as to whether or not he will be part of the cast. While I'm glad that this will probably result in more exposure for the the original film and this wonderful story, it's sad that American audiences have to see an English language film with recognizable actors before they'll even notice a film.
For me, this is one of the real highlight's of the Cambridge Film Festival 2002. A beautiful, moving, funny, and heartwarming film that manages to avoid any cheap sentimentality. Elling is a middle-aged man who once lived an isolated existence with his mother, but is taken into an institution when his mother dies. The film follows his progress in coming to terms with the world. Per Christian Ellefsen gives a stunning performance as Elling. A must see movie.
This is the main theme of the film: Hold on to your dream and never give up
I think Per Christian Ellefsen's performance as Elling was pretty much the best acting I've seen in my life. Sven Nordin reminds a little bit of Gerard Depardieu, and the character he plays reminds a tiny bit of Lenny of "Of Mice And Men" but more intelligent.
It's the story of two men who are apparently too old to start their "own" lives, but virtually have to do so by all means as a result of their lives up to date. Neither of them is substantially retarded or mad, just a little bit over-eccentric which makes things harder for them. One day, the competent authorities of the Norwegian government decide to release them from their "captivity" in the institution, and give them a chance to live a "real life" on their very own, and social worker Frank is there to assist them. It won't be easy for the two socially-impaired men, but it will turn out to be easier and nicer than they (especially Elling) fear.
The rest is for you to watch in the film. And by all means, watch it! Per Christian Ellefsen's acting is absolutely fascinating, and everything is well put in the scenario. A beautiful film from a beautiful country.
This has to be one of the best films from Norway that I've ever seen.
OK, so it's the first film from Norway that I've ever seen, but it is a
great movie. Very uplifting and heartwarming, yet the characters are
very interesting and believable unlike many movies out there these
days. And a quick reply to Andrés M. Rais who felt that this movie was
"feel-good propaganda". Sorry if life isn't always great, in fact most
of the time it just plain sucks. But that is why we watch movies. If
you go into every movie expecting bad endings and horrible things to
happen all the time, because that is how you feel life is, you need to
re-examine your view on life (maybe get some Prozac too). Go rent a
documentary about genocide, famine, and global warming, and keep your
negative comments to yourself please. Almost every other comment on
this site has been positive, so if you are trying to decide whether or
not to watch this movie, just ignore Andrés.
BTW: If you liked the movie Amelie, you will probably like this movie (also, if you liked this movie, you will probably like Amelie :).
Elling has become one of the best Norwegians film to date and it holds
a special position because it's probably one of the first Norwegian
movies to be exported and viewed by people in a great variety of
countries all over the world. And with good reason. Elling was
nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and that probably
gave a lot of promotion. Several other Norwegian films have been
nominated for the same category, but no one has had such a great
success outside Norway as Elling.
Elling follows the two characters Elling and Kjell Bjarne as they are released from an institution and moves into their own apartment. Both have serious social problems, so their new life is gonna be quite a challenge. As the days goes by they meet a couple of other people witch brings Elling and Kjell Bjarnes relationship to several test.
Based on a book by Ingvar Ambjørnsen, Elling is a well written and very charming movie. The dialog is well written and perfectly delivered. It is a movie out of the ordinary and something for everyone to enjoy. No matter country or generation. The lovable characters of Elling and Kjell Bjarne is excellent portrayed by Per Christian Ellefsen and Sven Nordin. Peter Næss does a good job in the directors chair and Lars Lillo-Stenberg gives the movie a nice score. All together this make up a great, funny, charming and lovely movie. Elling is a comedy, yet it is also a drama. The characters and the actors who brings them to life is just hilarious, yet their social dysfunction is a rather serious problem and you kind of feel bad for them and wish them to get better. Elling might have the biggest problem as he have to deal with his jealousy when Kjell Bjarne meets someone else. The interaction between the characters and Elling jealousy is very well captured and that's partly what makes this a great movie.
If you ought to see one Norwegian movie Elling should be it! That way it will not be the last Norwegian movie you see.
When I first saw this movie, I did not like it to much. That's because I had read all 4 books about the main character and somehow felt connected to him. 2nd time I saw this movie I changed my opinion. This movie is really good. Characters you have to love, struggling with all the inner demons most of us, at one time or another, are slightly familiar with. Elling & Kjell Bjarne are 2 people outside the world most of us live in, and they are struggling to get inside. And what a joyful struggle. I cheer the main characters, director, photo & music. Some flaws are present, but they are not big enough to ruin this movie. You should see it. The casting is so good that I have to question the fact that Hollywood are planning on making an american (sigh!) version. They can't do it, I know that for a fact already. These actors in the original movie ARE the characters. Impressive stuff.
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