Maipo Film & TV-Produksjon, Norway, 2001
Genre: Drama / Comedy
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Petter Næss
Written by: Axel Hellstenius, based on
Ingvar Ambjørnsen's novel; "Brothers in blood"
As of lately, a movie about people with certain social challenges and their struggle to get back into the real world faces the danger of being labelled as yet another Rainman or Forrest Gump. Especially those that wrap the morale of the story with light-hearted humor and sentimentalism.
Luckily, Elling isn't like those movies.
With Elling, director Petter Næss shows us how simple a movie can be, and still be very very good. (Yes, I might as well say it immediately, I loved it.) It's not a big movie, nor very pretty and technically perfect, and probably not the best movie around, but it still managed to make me enjoy it in a very deep way. It's warm, it's heart-warming, it's funny, and at times, even hysterical. And the music, by Lars Lillo-Stenberg, suits the atmosphere of the movie very well.
The stars of the movie are the omniphobic Elling, the movie's central character, excellently portrayed by Per Christian Ellefsen, and the simple-minded and sex-crazed virgin Kjell-Bjarne, very well played by Sven Nordin.
The casting crew did an excellent job with both the headliners and the supporting actors. The energy between Elling and Kjell-Bjarne, as well as their social worker contact Frank (played by Jørgen Langhelle), flows very well, and one can almost pick up the feeling that the actors have a bond similar to that expressed on the set between the characters. Reidun (played by Marit Pia Jacobsen), Kjell-Bjarne's girlfriend, only plops into view towards the end, but she has a sturdy character, and also very well portrayed.
The essence of the story is two friends' struggle to re-unite with society, after having spent the last two years in a mental institution.
The movie starts when our two friends are sent off to live in their new apartment in downtown Oslo. Elling, being a very (extremely) cautious person, is having a lot of trouble just going outside, talking in the phone, talking to strangers... He's basically a basketful of quirks, phobias and general mental oddities.
Kjell-Bjarne, on the other hand, is slightly less restive. His obsession is with women - particularly blondes - and his own virginity. He isn't very talkative, though, and consults Elling about what he should say and do to attract the girls.
I will leave it at that, and suggest you go and see it for yourself.
Oh, and a final note; Elling has been nominated as Best foreign language film of the year for the 74th Academy Awards.