Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Academy Awards, ELLING, from Norwegian director Petter Nęss, is an "ODD COUPLE meets ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST" comedy about two misfits trying to find their place in society.
Elling is a middle-aged man who has spent his entire life sheltered in his childhood home. After the death of his mother, the reclusive and shy Elling is sent to a state home and shares a room with the somewhat denser Kjell Bjarne, a hulking, loud, sex-obsessed man. After a couple of years in their close-quarters they become firm friends and when the pair are released into the real world they are given a state funded apartment in Oslo where they must attempt to behave like responsible citizens.
Elling's fear of abandonment consumes him. He refuses to leave the apartment or even to answer the telephone, and will only let Kjell Bjarne make the short trips to the grocery store. Initially going around the corner for groceries is an ordeal. As Elling reflects poignantly: "some people go skiing in the North Pole, while I have problems just crossing a restaurant floor".
When Kjell Bjarne strikes up an unexpected relationship with a woman, Elling feels threatened but finds an amusing and unusual way to express himself. Thanks to a chance encounter with an aging poet, Elling is encouraged to write and becomes an underground sensation as 'The Sauerkraut Poet". This newfound form of expression thrills him, but it is a memorable trip to the country that ultimately forces him to come to terms with the fact that he must overcome his fears and begin his journey towards happiness.