Elling is a Norwegian film, nominated for the 2001 Foreign Language Film Academy Award. It is about 2 men who are released from the local psychiatric facility, to share an apartment and try to make their way in "normal" society. Nicely understated, with excellent performances and a touching finale, it makes for a really nice break from today's Hollywood blow-ups.
The film is narrated by Elling, played with goofy intensity by Per Christian Ellefsen. He was admitted to the mental hospital after the police found him cowering in a closet when his mother was found dead of natural causes. He rooms with Kjell (Sven Nordin), a hulking neurotic who also doesn't like to leave house, and who tells tall tales of his imaginary sexual exploits.
They are released to the world, to share an apartment and try to mix back in with society. They promise to try and get involved, but spend most of the movie hiding out in their apartment, prodded with varying degress of success by their social worker, Frank (Jørgen Langhelle). Elling hates to answer the phone, and so there is an amusing scene where Frank tries to teach Elling phone manners.
One night after a rare foray into a local restaurant, they come across Reidun (Marit Pia Jacobsen), who is passed out on the landing below her apartment, which is the next floor up from Elling and Kjell's. She is obviously pregnant, but yet lives alone. Reidun and Kjell hit if off, although Kjell is extremely shy, despite his braggadicio. Elling also gets jealous of the attention Kjell pays to Reidun, making for some friction. They do meet an author idol of Elling's, who has an old car that Kjell, a real handyman, promises to fix.
In the meantime, Elling has become something of an unknown folk hero. He writes pithy verses and sticks them into boxes of sauerkraut! Even his idol talks about his escapades, not knowing it is Elling himself.
Finally, the trio and the author head off for a trip to the sea in the newly restored car. There Kjell is finally introduced to the mysteries of sex and, of course, Reidun goes into labor. There are some tight moments but it all works out and they all live happily ever after.
There's lots to like in this film. While it doesn't offer any deep insights, it is funny, touching, and emotional. The two leads put in really top notch performances, connecting almost immediately with the audience. I enjoyed myself tremendously and can highly recommend at least a rental, if not evan a purchase.