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Elling: A DVD Review

Updated on June 19, 2010

An All-Time Favorite

Elling is one of my all time favorite movies, called a "gem" by most reviewers. Elling is the story of two men who are thrown together as unlikely roommates in a mental institution.  When the state deems them ready to face the world, they are given their own apartment and an extremely cool social worker (Jorgen Langhelle) and instructed to make a life for themselves. Elling and Kjell Bjarne bravely go forth into the world and transform themselves from inmates at a mental institution to productive, garden-variety eccentrics. 

Hilarious & Touching

Tremendous Performances!

The title role, Elling, is played by Norwegian actor Per Christian Ellefsen. Kjell Bjarne, his bear of a roommate, and best friend is played by Sven Nordin. Elling is small, fussy, and fastidious. Giant Kjell Bjarne is just downright rambunctious!

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Elling effectively addresses the subject of the validity of encouraging and supporting people with emotional disabilities to be independent and build a place in the world. The relationship the two men are able to build is complex, interesting, heart-warming and hilarious.

The story is absolutely unique and original. Even though some reviewers choose to call it a Norwegian Odd Couple, I would not say that this characterizes it at all. The characters are complex, interesting and complete. The plot is unusual, touching and fun. The entire movie is surprising, but there are definitely some remarkably delightful little surprises along the way. Kjell Bjarne's Christmas present for Elling is a big one. I have felt entertained every single one of the dozen or more times I have watched this movie! If you enjoy foreign films, this is a must have for your personal library.

I absolutely recommend this movie to others. On a scale of 1 - 10, it is an 11. When I first rented it from Blockbuster years ago, I watched it several times, shared it with several friends and ordered my own copy from Amazon right away. I watch Elling happily every couple of months. It is an engaging, creative, enjoyable story peopled with characters I love to visit. I have heard that there are sequels in Norwegian, and I hope they will someday be made available to us here in the U.S.

Elling was nominated for an Academy Award in the Foreign Language Film category in 2001.

Kevin Spacey's production company has bought the rights to Elling. While I hate to see it remade at all, I am glad that it is Kevin Spacey who is doing it. I'm sure he will do a fine job.


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  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

    Many thanks, Happy! I will check out the movies you have recommended. I recently ran across a copy of Elling on VHS at my local Recycled Book Store and snatched it up so that I can also watch it on my bedroom TV (which doesn't have a DVD player)! :D

  • A Happy Man profile image

    A Happy Man 6 years ago from Washington State

    I love Norwegian cinema. I have found the country's films to be consistently compelling, original and, well, odd. In a good way. In no small measure because I am the son of a native Norwegian. I grew up in Texas, where you reside, "justmesuzanne". May I suggest "Kitchen Stories", which is a similar but a little different tale also ultimately about male bonding. "The Bothersome Man" and "Trollhunter" are a couple more movies from Norway exploring a bit darker territory but abundantly entertaining just the same. I have not seen "Elling" yet. But your rave review has certainly inspired me to do so now. Voted up on this fun piece here. Happy Viewing and Tasty Popcorn to all!

  • Sammin profile image

    Sammin 8 years ago

    It seems that is a great film. I will try to find it. Another good movie I like very much is pursuit of happness.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

    Thanks, Tatjana! :)

  • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

    Tatjana-Mihaela 8 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

    Seems very interesting movie. And your review is - just excellent and so inspiring.

    Thumbs up!

  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

    Thanks! I know you will love this film! What's not to love? :)

  • BkCreative profile image

    BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    I so love foreign films! Even better, I love foreign films when they come reviewed and recommended.

    Thanks justmesuzanne! I will look for this one!