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.