If you love foreign films as much as I do, you'll love Elling. Based on the
best-selling Norwegian novel by Ingvar Ambjersen, Elling is a quirky comedy about two misfits trying to find their place in the world.
After spending two years in a state mental facility, Elling (Per Christian Ellefsen) and his sex-obsessed roommate, Kjell Bjarne (Sven Norden), are placed in a state-funded apartment to see if they can handle real life. Elling is neurotic, agoraphobic, and obsessed with his dead mother. Kjell Bjame, Elling’s huge, forty-year-old roommate, never stops thinking about when his first sexual encounter might happen.
Elling and Kjell Bjame push their beds into the same room and decorate the
new apartment to remind them of the hospital. They talk and play cards
together, completely ignoring the scary outside world they’re supposed to
be adapting to. The winner of the games gets to cook dinner, but the loser
has to go buy the groceries. Much to the dismay of their social worker,
this arrangement works for quite some time.
Kjell Bjame figures out that he doesn't have to leave the apartment to meet
girls, and he runs up a phone bill in the five-thousand-dollar range. This
aggravates the social worker, and the roommates are threatened, “Either go outside and meet some real people, or go back to the hospital!”
The movie picks up pace as the two begin experimenting with the outside
world and all it has to offer. Restaurants, public restrooms, crossing the
street—there’s so much to learn. Then, Kjel Bjarne finds a passed-out
pregnant woman lying on the steps of their apartment building, and it's
love at first sight. This act of betrayal forces Elling to go out and meet
some real people, too.
There are places in the movie where you might die laughing, and there are some
emotionally touching moments as well. You can feel the anxiety Elling experiences when he’s forced to walk into a poetry reading for the first time. I was touched by the companionship the two oddball main characters share.
The honesty between the two is amazing. For instance, Elling doesn't want to lose his roommate to the pregnant woman upstairs, but he lends him his clean underwear (the pair he’s wearing) anyway. The two argue, make up, get drunk, and vomit together. It’s an enviable friendship.
Grab your glasses to read the subtitles, fix a hot plate of pork and gravy,
and watch Elling!