Thursday, January 22, 2009

House of Fools

Russia 2002

A true story about the patients of a Russian psychiatric asylum (in Caucasus, on the Chechnyan border) who become involved with the Chechen War after their doctors, nurses and attendants abandon them. Amidst the turmoil, a young woman, Janna, falls in love with a Chechen soldier. Canadian pop singer Bryan Adams (playing himself) appears to Janna as a hallucination singing his hit, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?"

A rich, distraught, quirky, emotional ride embedded with grit, blood and the insane or physically challenged. The cast of House of Fools are of both great actors and real life people with mental and/or physical illnesses. The institution's faculty are scarce but prevalent subsidies of the main cast of mental patients. At the beginning and quite often throughout the film, Bryan Adams pops in looking like a Willem Dafoe/Jeremy Irons hybrid, into the imagination and dreams of the lead actress. During which the feel of the film turns from the rugged cold stain, to a light and warm lather. The film really just goes on and on in a great way. It's a war film. But as you watch it, you wouldn't even know it. The lead actress is intentionally easy on the eyes but absolutely insane. She seems to maintain a distinction of sanity over the other patients, being creative, interactive and kind to all of them. However, as the film unravels more into the war going on around them, she becomes more displaced and unstable than perhaps all of the fools. This film can be really funny at times as well as really despairing.

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