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The war film that's not a war film. A film about the mental institution which backdrop is the Chechen war. A story about the patients living in an institution during the war on the border of Chechnia and Russia during the war. The patients have to continue living their day to day life after being invaded twice over, and they have to deal with their sicknesses. Written by
House of Fools follows the lives of a group of patients abandoned at a psychiatric hospital during the Chechen War in Russia. The protagonist, Janna (Yuliya Vysotskaya), must reconcile her dreams/delusions for a happy life (with Canadian pop star, Bryan Adams) and the real, violent war going on around her.
Offering an insightful parallel between the minds of psychiatric patients and war-torn soldiers (from both sides of the war), the director, Andrei Konchalovsky, poses the questions: What is "madness" and who is truly "crazy"? Without losing its quirky humor, the film's questions are brought to light through emotionally moving and complex characters and plot.
Konchalovsky provides a sympathetic contrast between the psychiatric patients and soldiers upholding his theme that true insanity comes from human aggression like war rather than mental disorders. The film first depicts the psychiatric patients as "crazy"; however, the arrival of the soldiers and war suggest a role reversal. The insanity of violence and two sides fighting against each other (who had previously fought with each other in the Soviet war in Afghanistan) is highlighted, while holding on to somethinga hope for love, dreams, fantasies, and, above all, humanityis presented as the combatant to insanity.
For those who love quirky films with deeper emotional and philosophical meanings, this film provides a perfect balance. Yuliya Vysotskaya's performance as Janna is astonishing. At moments she makes you feel both utterly sad and joyously optimistic at the same time. She plays the role beautifully and intelligently, using her humor as relatable and lovable, rather than as a gimmick. Not only is the film shot beautifully, but the plot and character are just so interesting that one is left wanting to watch it over again with somebody new. I would definitely recommend it to all of my friends and family. If not for the cinematography, moving themes, plot, and characters, then for the references and appearance of Bryan Adams which is just funny.
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