Elling

culture

The brother was up for the weekend, so we toddled off to The Phoenix to see Elling: a wonderful, funny, touching and humane Norwegian film. We nearly didn't get to hear the film as an annoying hum seemed to have replaced the soundtrack. This was one of those things that happens occasionally at The Phoenix. One of the staff came out and apologised, then they started the film again. Again with the humming, followed by more apologies. A woman in the audience called out, "Do you want a hand?". Eventually, we had pictures and sound, accompanied by an ironic round of applause from the audience.

Elling tells the story of two former inmates of an institution: obsessive moralist and agoraphobe Elling, and his sex and food-obsessed room-mate Kjell Bjarne. They are given a flat on their own by the state and told that they have to prove that they are capable of looking after themselves to keep it. At first they both just feel lost and abandoned. Elling won't leave the flat, and the pair rather touchingly move both beds into one room, so that it will be just like the state home. Eventually, Kjell Bjarne's insatiable need for food and seeing women means that they both have to venture forth.

Gradually, they build new lives for themselves, make friends and find themselves a future. The film is very touching, but never descends to sentimentality. Elling and Kjelle succeed in supporting one another (despite — like lovers — having flaming rows) much more effectively than the state institution ever did.

comments powered by Disqus