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What does the cult-classic status of Tod Browning's Freaks or the wide appeal of Barry Levinson's Rain Man tell us? That moviegoers love misfits. And thanks to this film, we now know that Norwegians are not immune to the phenomenon. Narrated by its title character (Per Christian Ellefsen), this Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film follows two sweet but unstable characters from a mental hospital to the mainstream.
The titular Elling, small and suspicious, is about as tightly wound as they come; Kjell Bjarne (Sven Nordin), big and big-hearted, lacks social graces. Together, they form an Oslo Odd Couple. But both men yearn for a normal life, and when they find love (in Kjell Bjarne's case) and respect (in Elling's), there's no chance they'll give it up. Yes, Petter Naess' film is manipulative and occasionally predictable, but its wit and upbeat message make it work. Hey, and the scenery's pretty nice, too.