HOUSE OF FOOLS — A REVIEW BY GUEST CRITIC/FILMMAKER DAMIAN K. LAHEY

House Of Fools (2002) dir. Andrey Konchalovskiy

 

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This film has one of the more unique premises you’re likely to find. During the Chechen war, a mental hospital is abandoned by the doctors – leaving the patients to fend for themselves. ‘House Of Fools’ also does a very solid job of portraying mental illness. What makes mental illness so incredibly terrifying is that those that are inflicted with it do not believe they are. I have seen wonderful people I know succumb to this. People who were once so vibrant and alive. Watching them fall apart in such a humiliating way is a tragic thing. I would give all the money in the world if they could be healthy and happy again. Yuliya Vysotskaya shines as a tortured young woman who believes Bryan Adams is her fiancee and is away on tour. I thought it was really touching of Bryan Adams to make cameo appearances in this film in dream sequences. Not a lot of guys in his position would do that. It says a lot about his character and really added heart to the film. Not the biggest fan of his music, but…

With the arrival of the soldiers this film does not take the dark route that it could have though it is certainly tense and uncomfortable at times. This was a smart move by the director. As he has already established a set up rife with suspense he chooses to go with eccentric humor and sadness over vicious hysteria and exploitative elements which I believe was the right call to make. ‘House Of Fools’ depicts just a fragment of life during war time, reinforcing that it affects every facet of life. Nothing is safe from it. It creeps into everything. One of  my favorite scenes is when soldiers on opposing sides take a break from fighting to sell each other weed. At the end of the day this film is interested in asking the big question: who is crazier? The soldiers or the patients? But that’s too easy. What will stick with you are the sequences of the mental patients left on their own after the doctors have fled and their attempts at continuing with life as usual. It’s endearing and heart breaking.

HouseOfFools

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