Mixed or average reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 23
  2. Negative: 5 out of 23
  1. 90
    The thing is, it works. Or at least it works for me. I left the theater convinced that House of Fools is Konchalovsky's best work in almost 20 years (which it is) and that it might be something close to a masterpiece.
  2. A superbly shot film of emotional extravagance, sentimentality and even humor, House of Fools is a film that is ultimately quite moving but which probably could only have been pulled off by a director steeped in that famous Russian soul.
  3. A humane and fantastic work, and it touches us precisely because Konchalovsky shows the reality of both the soldiers and the madhouse inmates. His movie is just what he intended: a nightmare that speaks the truth.
  4. 75
    The masterstroke is the use of Bryan Adams, who seems like a joke when he first appears (the movie knows this), but is used by Konchalovsky in such a way that eventually be becomes the embodiment of the ability to imagine and dream--an ability, the movie implies, that's the only thing keeping these crazy people sane.
  5. 75
    Konchalovsky, best known here for "Runaway Train" (1985), takes on a difficult subject with a light mix of dark humor and pathos.
  6. This flamboyantly operatic anti-war film takes getting used to, though it leaves you with memorable images of madness, both poetic and military.
  7. This is obviously a sincere undertaking, and there's a certain homemade charm to the special effects used in the combat scenes.
  8. An often trying and not wholly successful but highly ambitious and ultimately rewarding mental-institution movie that strongly echoes the 1966 classic of the genre, "King of Hearts."
  9. The biggest surprise of his film is that what begins in sentimental cliche concludes with melancholy insight.
  10. Fables should be succinct, and Konchalovsky lets his run on too long.
  11. 60
    Never finds any forward momentum, but Vysotskaya's sweet performance and the unsubtle but effective use of the war-torn asylum as a stand-in for the former USSR keep it compelling.
  12. The film's intent -- contrasting the relatively benign craziness of a group of mental patients with the far greater insanity of war -- is worthy but obvious, while the execution is overly indulgent and at times precious.
  13. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Has the comically grotesque appeal of a Fellini film and could reach out to auds in specialized release. It lacks the originality and invention to go much beyond that.
  14. Konchalovsky keeps the action reasonably quick, but sentimental storytelling eventually swamps the picture.
  15. 50
    House of Fools is not in the category of the director's acclaimed "Runaway Train." It may be based on a true story, but another filmmaker told it before -- and better.
  16. Something less than a gem. It has a brilliant lead performance from Yuliya Vysotskaya as Janna.
  17. The use of Bryan Adams as the madwoman's imagined paramour is indicative of just how mediocre this movie is.
  18. 30
    Only adds to the sense that Mr. Konchalovsky has lost his artistic moorings. He has certainly lost his common sense.
  19. There doesn't seem to be much purpose to it except a half-baked notion that the histrionics of the mentally insane (or a moviemaker's idea therein) are eminently cinematic. They aren't.
  20. Reviewed by: Carla Meyer
    An ill-conceived comedy.
  21. For world-class lapses of judgment, Andrei Konchalovsky's House of Fools is a berserk overachiever.
  22. His (writer/director Konchalovsky's) plunge into the world of mental distortion is so garish, so exploitative, that the picture needs only a few clicks of the dial to move from the horrible to the ludicrous

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