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House of Fools (2002)

Cast: Bryan Adams, Julia Vysotsky, Sultan Islamov, more...
Director: Andrei Konchalovsky
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Paramount
Genre: Comedies, Foreign, Black Comedy, Russia
Running Time: 108 min.
Languages: Russian
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

War brings together a disillusioned soldier and a sweet but delusional woman in this romantic comedy-drama from director Andrei Konchalovsky. A small Russian mental hospital near the border of Chechnya is home to a group of eccentric but harmless patients, among them Janna (Julia Vysotsky), a cheerful woman who likes to play accordion and is convinced pop singer Bryan Adams is her fiancÚ; over-excitable Vika (Marina Politseymako); and highly prolific would-be poet Ali (Stanislav Varkki). When fighting between Russians and Chechens flares up and bombing threatens the hospital, the doctor in charge (Vladas Bagdonas) goes out to find vehicles to evacuate his patients, briefly leaving them to their own devices. While the doctor is away, a group of Chechen soldiers happen upon the hospital, but they seemingly mean no harm to the patients, and one of them, Ahmed (Sultan Islamov), starts flirting with Janna. Janna quickly falls head over heels for Ahmed, and leaves behind her treasured Bryan Adams poster to be with him...though in her mind, Adams isn't about to give up her affections without a fight. As love grows between them, Ahmed finds himself wondering just who is supposed to be sane -- the lunatics at the hospital, or the soldiers fighting a pointless war. Bryan Adams appears as himself in Dom Durakov, and sings several songs, including his international hit "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Yes, War is Hell, but it Can Also Be Cute! by talltale March 31, 2005 - 4:59 PM PST
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Quintuple threat Andrei Konchalovsky (he writes, he directs, he acts, he produces, he's even composed music!) has never been a favorite of mine: "Runaway Train," "Duet for One," "Tango and Cash" and on and on. The best I can say about any of his films is, "Well, it was OK." The worst can be summed up in three words: HOUSE OF FOOLS.

After the French gave us the early "King of Hearts" in the 60s and the less treacle-y "Triggered" a few years back, I would have thought most everything had been said about lunatic asylums, the inmates taking over, how the outside world is crazier than the inside, and on and on. But no--I guess Mr. Konchalovsky feels he has more to add. His story is supposedly based on true events that occurred around the start of the Russian/Chechen War, but it still plays like a queasy combo of the cutesy and exploitative, with faux-tender moments telegraphed a mile (or two) away: Oh, these crazy, funny nutcases! Oh, how the opposing soldiers really want to bond! (Do I sound cynical? Well, that's how sappy movies like this affect me.)

This is the sort of film in which a drained color palette means real life, while an inmate's fantasy turns the screen to sweet yellows and rosy reds. The performers come off like a mix of real actors strutting their stuff and real inmates strutting theirs. Mostly, I suspect, it's a case of writer/director Konchalovsky strutting his.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.00)
8 Votes
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