Directed By: Petter Noss
With: Per Christian Ellefsen, Sven Nordin
Long live the Scandinavian filmmakers! After Bergman there seemed to be a bit of a lull on the Nordic screen before von Trier and the Dogma collective rewrote the rules and started a minor revolution. “Elling,” a perfect little Norwegian movie, is not technically a Dogma film, but belongs to that same odd and wonderful family.
The film tells the story of two lovable mental patients people who meet as roommates in an institution. Elling, a small middle-aged man who looks a little like Rowan Atkinson, is sent there after his mother dies, where he meets Kjell an oversized, hormonally charged virgin with a heart of gold. The two are offered a small apartment in Oslo as an experiment in integrating them back into society. Like an old married couple the two begin to live the lives that they had been denied since childhood. One of them falls in love and while the other even begins to write poetry. But for the most part it is almost like watching two adults go off to college, stumbling into a world of responsibility and consequence.
In the fictitious American remake we’ll see some super celeb (Penn, Williams, Ribisi, etc.) looking for an Oscar and seeking out one of these roles playing a mentally and emotionally challenged adult struggling to live a normal life. What makes this film such a gem is that we have never seen these people before, and as such the film feels real, and the story natural and unscripted.
It would be hard to imagine not finding something to love in “Elling,” with the rhythm and cozy gray skies of Norway a kind of watchful babysitter.