Adam's Apples (Adams æbler) Made in: Denmark Language: Danish Director: Anders Thomas Jensen Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Ole Thestrup, Ali Kazim, Nicolas Bro, Paprika Steen Year: 2005
Synopsis: When neo-Nazi skinhead Adam Pedersen (Ulrich Thomsen) gets released from prison, he's sent to a small church in the Danish countryside to perform community service. Once there, he finds himself under the supervision of Ivan (Mads Mikkelsen - known for playing the villain in the 2006 James Bond film
As the church's eccentric minister, Ivan is also overseeing two other ex-cons, kleptomaniac Gunnar (Nicolas Bro) and amateur political terrorist Khalid (Ali Kazim), who's only accomplishments include robbing a few gas stations.
Adam is given the task of caring for the apple tree on the church's front lawn, and soon experiences Ivan's insanely positive view of life. The minister, who behaves kindly enough, has a way of rationalizing all negativity in life with sunny, and sometimes, shallow reasoning.
He "doesn't believe in evil" and explains away bad, even borderline psychopathic behavior, as "tests from the devil" and leaves it at that without confronting the issues any further.
Is Ivan simply strong in his beliefs? Is he a compulsive liar? Or is he dangerously delusional?
Poisoned by a life of hatred, Adam sets out to destroy Ivan's worldview and faith. But what results is a dark, turbulent, and unexpected journey of redemption for all.
Remarks: Adam's Apples is simply a f*cked up movie and will cause several reactions. First the easy stuff. On its merits as a film, I must say that the acting, as in most of the other foreign films reviewed at this site, is excellent.
Director Anders Thomas Jensen creates a story that flows smoothly, and allows his vivid characters to stand out in contrast to the tranquil background of rural Denmark.
I would agree with its classification as a dark comedy, since the humor is often dry, irreverent, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and usually sick. But throughout the film there are also violent and bloody moments that will make you cringe. And from what I've been told, this brand of humor is common in Danish art/drama.
The use of biblical allegory is quite powerful, which is what I found most intriguing. Spirituality is often thought of as a concept that involves peace, serenity, and other hippy stuff.
Whether it was director Anders Thomas Jensen's intention or not, Adam's Apples boldly (and accurately) expresses the Christian definition of spirituality.
Through heavy use of biblical allegory and Christian symbolism, Jensen points out that spirituality ultimately leads to good, but is an unpredictable, and utterly life shattering experience for both non-believers and believers alike.
Who would like this movie: This is going to be a tough call. The message of this film is positive (complete with a happy ending), and the religious themes will no doubt spark good discussion among Christian viewers.
However, I won't go so far as to say that Adam's Apples is an uplifting movie. I have a strong feeling that you'll find it disturbing and troublesome, which is also one of the main reasons why it works.
My final word is that this might be a difficult foreign film to get through, but worth it only if you feel more like being challenged than entertained. Just don't ask me to watch it with you...once was enough.