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Elling (2002)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 58
Fresh: 49 | Rotten: 9

Quirky without being overly cutesy, Elling is a gentle, warm comedy.


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 18
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 1

Quirky without being overly cutesy, Elling is a gentle, warm comedy.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 6,742

My Rating

Movie Info

When his mother, who has sheltered him his entire 40 years, dies, Elling, a sensitive, would-be poet, is sent to live in a state institution. There he meets Kjell Bjarne, a gentle giant and female-obsessed virgin in his 40s. After two years, the men are released and provided with a state-funded apartment and stipend with the hope they will be able to live on their own. Initially, the simple act of going around the corner for groceries is a challenge. Through a friendship born of desperate

Nov 19, 2002


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All Critics (71) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (49) | Rotten (9) | DVD (3)

It's affectionate and optimistic without being fuzzy.

December 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A charming but slight comedy.

September 13, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Elling, portrayed with quiet fastidiousness by Per Christian Ellefsen, is a truly singular character, one whose frailties are only slightly magnified versions of the ones that vex nearly everyone.

September 13, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Touches smartly and wistfully on a number of themes, not least the notion that the marginal members of society ... might benefit from a helping hand and a friendly kick in the pants.

September 13, 2002 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is refreshingly undogmatic about its characters.

September 13, 2002 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A witty and sophisticated sensibility brings individuality to the classic odd-couple comedy.

September 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

really is about a couple of crazy guys, and it's therapeutic

July 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

A pleasant surprise.

October 15, 2003 Full Review Source:

Just because the characters are crazy, that doesn't mean they are not smart.

April 2, 2003

The pleasing acting jobs by the two protagonists makes all this sugar easier to swallow, but not enough to find this film anything more than a mere diversion.

February 5, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

By maintaining a modest stance and a gentle, affectionate tone it emerges as winning rather than wearying.

December 31, 2002 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Tedious Norwegian offering which somehow snagged an Oscar nomination.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A sweet film about two gentle souls - there is a genuine caring between them that feels like watching old friends.

December 6, 2002 Full Review Source:

immanently worthy of its Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination

November 17, 2002 Full Review Source:

It is a life-affirming tale devoid of sappiness or pretention.

October 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

The moral is not too original, but the offbeat characters certainly are.

September 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

The film's brand of humor seems a bit too broad, and the quirks of its main characters aren't really all that endearing, instead coming off as irritating and tiresome.

September 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Elling is a light but self-sufficient comedy.

September 8, 2002
Your Movies (

The script is smart, not cloying.

September 6, 2002 Full Review Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Union-Tribune

Beautifully observed, miraculously unsentimental comedy-drama.

September 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Dallas Observer
Dallas Observer

Audience Reviews for Elling

I am really amazed at how much I liked this movie. At first I had my doubts, but then I just found myself unable to turn it off. These two guys were a hoot! I like how it all turned out. Very nice.
October 14, 2010

Super Reviewer

Touching and delightful!

Two middle-aged, mentally challenged men team up to live as roommates in urban Oslo. Somehow , their odd, symbiotic relationship allows them to cope with the day-to-day challenges of independent living. Even though their methods might be peculiar, the results are frequently hilarious and sometimes inspirational.

Thank you Norway for this wonderful gem of a film.
January 24, 2009
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

As Monk says, no friendship is perfect. A kind, quirky, and quiet look at friendship and mental illness. Long live the Sauerkraut Poet!
January 21, 2007

Super Reviewer

I went to see the stage production based on this Norwegian film in London in 2007 and due to my enjoyment, I bought the film.

Per Christian Ellefsen stars as Elling, a man recently released from a state institution. He is shy, neurotic, obsessively neat and tidy, agoraphobic and is unable to operate in the real world as his mother handled all of his decision making processes for the first 40 years of his life.

As part of his release into the community, he is required to share a state funded apartment with fellow released patient, Kjell Bjarne, portrayed by Sven Nordin. Kjell Bjarne is the total opposite loud mouthed and foul mouthed, scruffy and sex obsessed. If he isn't thinking about sex, he's talking to Elling about sex and if he isn't talking to Elling about sex, he is running up phone sex bills of 4000 Krone.

The conditions of their release are seemingly simple, they must prove to their social worker that they can operate as normal members of society or they lose the apartment, but when going to the grocery store to shop is a major challenge how can they meet their release conditions?

Through two chance meetings, Elling with poet and author Alfons Jorgensen (Per Christensen) and Kjell Bjarn's meeting and subsequent romance with pregnant neighbour Reidun Nordsletten (Marit Pia Jacobsen), the pair look to unconventional methods to cope with the society that is unleashed on their existence.

As this is a foreign language film, you are reliant on the subtitles. However, you can see from Ellefsen's and Nordin's performances that this is your basic "odd couple" storyline.

Ellefsen's portrayal is that of small compact spring - a bundle of nervous energy which looks to take up as little screen film as possible. Elling's voice is that for the majority of the film as you hear his opinions of his relationship with Kjell Bjarne and of life in general.

As befitting a man with a large personality, the portrayal of Kjell Bjarne is a big bear of a character, when he's loud he's very loud. When he swears or talks about sex it's for all the world to hear.

This is a darkly comic script which deals with life problems. However, the script never mocks the issue of mental health and you laugh with Elling and Kjell Bjarn and not mockingly at them.

Whilst this is a film that won't change your life and delivers quiet chuckles rather than belly laughs, please seek this out in your home entertainment store to rent. You may be pleasantly surprised.
January 22, 2011
Theta Sigma
Theta Sigma

Super Reviewer

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