Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eva Isaksen: De gales hus

English title: House of Fools, which is a very strange choice IMO, because what the title actually means is 'The House of the Mad' … and certainly being mad does not necessarily make one a fool. Many mad people are quite the opposite. So … sheesh.

This is another movie that I saw weeks and weeks ago but because I am so slow etc. I wasn't sure about seeing it, but when I let Anne Ida decide, this was what we ended up with. It's based on a novel by Karin Fossum, the acclaimed crime fiction writer (although this is a mainstream story, not a thriller) which Anne Ida absolutely loves. She's read it several times apparently and it's one of her favorite books ever. I've never read it, but someone thinks I should. ;-) She really wanted to see the movie version and I had no objections.

Brief plot summary ('brief' on this blog, yeah, right): Aina, our heroine, has had some kind of unspecified breakdown, has attempted suicide through jumping through a plate glass window while in a very confused mental state and has therefore been sent to an institution for the mentally ill. She denies her problems, admitting only that she's 'had kind of a hard time lately' but claims she can deal with it on her own. She certainly doesn't belong in the nuthouse. Initially she feels no connection with the other patients, perceives them as crazy in relation to herself and sees no similarities. Her therapy mostly consists of her repeatedly telling her therapist that he can just let her go home, because she's fine now. In group therapy she's freaked out by her fellow inmates. But over time as she gets to know them and their back stories, she realizes that … crazy is as crazy does.

Seen it before? Yeah, probably. This is a good movie but not a great one … it tells a story that does draw you in, but it's not very original. The setting is convincing and the characters are plausible, the acting is pretty good for a Norwegian movie and there are some really good performances. I would single out Fridtjov Såheim and Rolf Kristian Larsen … the latter especially gives a wonderful performance here, and considering this is only his third movie (he is so far best known for his brilliant portrayal of Jarle Klepp in Mannen som elsket Yngve) I was really impressed with him. Rolf Lassgård appears as the inevitable Swede in the form of Aina's well-meaning but demon-ridden therapist – he does a good job as always, but be prepared to concentrate really hard to catch all his lines through his less than stellar diction. The director should have been a little stricter with him on that score.

Overall this was a good movie – both sweet and sad, and also thought-provoking IMO … as Aina learns her life lessons the audience gets something to think about too. But it wasn't very original – it deals with issues that have been dealt with in many many movies over the years. And of course, when it comes to Norwegian movies about people learning to cope with depression, there’s nothing to beat The Art of Negative Thinking. :-)

Worth seeing, but probably won't change your life. ;-) Anne Ida was disappointed with some of the characters, as apparently they were more out there/in your face in the book, and seemed to have been dampened down for the movie, but as I have never read the book I can't really say. We were both happy that we'd seen it. :-)

Don't forget the giveaway! :-)


Paz said...

Being foolish does also not make one mad and what is life without being a bit of madness. I myself am like the Danish prince " mad north-north-west.."
how far away is the giveaway and is Madam going to pander for comments until the posting? ;P

Leisha Camden said...

What the movie showed pretty well was that in some ways there is no real line between sanity and insanity ... it's more of a grey area that people can slip into. The main character feels that she can't acknowledge the fact that she is disturbed on some level because if she does, she will be like the others, the 'real' nutcases who do belong in an institution. And of course she is nothing like those people. But over the course of the story she learns a lot about that vague border between different states of mind.

I think I said I'd leave the giveaway open for about a week, didn't I ... ? You are so impatient! And of course I will keep reminding people, wouldn't want anyone to miss out ... ;-)

Paz said...

not impatient was teasing that maybe Madam was pimping for comments I may have been too subtle, just wondering because I feel that my comments have been cheapened as people might think I am a gjerrigknark/gnier ;p

Leisha Camden said...

OMG! You've learned Norwegian!! Well, at least two words. I am touched. Babelfish good for something at last?? :-o You know your comments are always very valuable around here, even if it is only to tease ... ;-)

Paz said... is also good, tho' I wrote those words down does not mean that I can pronounce them.
Like the joke about the scandinavian that went for an eye test and was asked to read letters that went KYONGJKR on the bottom of the chart. when asked if he could Identify with the letters he replied " Thats where I grew up!"

Leisha Camden said...


Findabair said...

*giggle* Wonderful joke! Have to remember that one; not least because I suspect it could adapt very well to Welsh, and as it happens I have a Welsh friend... *evil grin*

Thanks for the review of the film; not planning on seeing it, but nice to know what it is about, so I can fake knowing something about it :)

Paz said...

the joke works in a lot of languages ie put in wxklrxja and viola Polish

Leisha Camden said...

A Polish friend of mine is from a district of Gdansk called - let me think - Wrzeszcz. I did eventually learn to pronounce it. But I never quite accepted it. One word, eight letters; one vowel and three zs. Is it really necessary??

Leisha Camden said...

Oh, and Findabair: you're welcome :-) and like I said, if you're going to see one Norwegian movie about people learning to cope with depression, you MUST make it The Art of Negative Thinking. :-)

Anne Ida said...

Like you say, it was a good film, but not a great film. The book has a lot of subtleties that the film just isn't able to show; among other things Aina's way of interpreting the other patients at the institution. Some of the characters weren't like I would have expected from the book, but beeing disappointed by that is always a danger when seeing a film of a book you love... I'll lend you the book, and then we'll see what you think :o) You'd prpbably read it in a few days.

Leisha Camden said...

Sure, I'm definitely interested in reading the book. And having seen the movie first only makes the book better (it's the other way around that can be dodgy ;-).