CAPSULE: ADAM'S APPLES is an enigmatic and absurdist comedy from Denmark. Apparently it is some sort of re-working of the story of Job. A neo-Nazi skinhead goes to a church to work out part of his prison sentence by being rehabilitated by a priest. The priest turns out to be blissfully crazy. It is not clear if this is all some sort of strange parable or just a black comedy with several very strange and eccentric people. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Adam (played by Ulrich Thomsen) is a neo-Nazi released from prison. He is filled with hate for just about everybody he meets. To set him on the right path he is to spend a community service and rehabilitation period living at a church supervised by Ivan (Mads Mikkelsen) a priest who has two or three other such wards. Ivan also seems to have his own problems. His reaction to a background more painful than Adam's is to turn off his own ability to sense physical and emotional pain.
Ivan first asks Adam to choose a goal--any goal he wants to work toward. Adam chooses to make an apple cake using the beautiful apples from the tree that is the pride of the church. There is an obvious way this story could go, but it is never really clear where the story is going.
Adam immediately clashes with two other ex-convicts being rehabilitated. Gunnar (Nicolas Bro) is a kleptomaniac and a rapist. Khalid is a militant Afghani who expresses his passion with armed robbery. Adam finds that he does not understand these men and at first reacts violently. But his most violent reaction is to the priest. Ivan seems to go through life assuming that all the trouble and pain is visited on us by the Devil and therefore we need pay no attention to it. He simply rejects all bad things in life as if they have not happened.
As obstacles mount up between Adam and his pie a sort of theological debate grows between Adam and Ivan. Is adversity from the Devil as Ivan believes or, as Adam reads in the Book of Job does it come from God. And in odd ways God seems to enter the debate on the side of Adam.
While this goes on each of the priest's wards seems to live in a world of his own, denying the real world in different ways. The eccentricities only work to feed Adam's rage and make him more violent. Ivan fails to notice even the beatings that Adam subjects him to and just keeps encouraging Adam to bake his cake in spite of the various garden pests and problems that seem to keep getting in his way. Ivan is not the hero he at first appears and is frequently tyrannical with his own parishioners.
Each character seems to be on a different wavelength and each person's bizarre behavior seems to echo in the others. Meanwhile God or the Devil is somehow sending messages to Adam through the Bible in his room.
None of this gives a feel for how strange this film is and how bizarre the characters and the turns of fate are. This is a film that is difficult to pigeonhole. ADAM'S APPLES jumps from comic to tragic to surreal to dramatic without missing a beat. The film was written and directed by the Danish Anders Thomas Jensen, who has a penchant for peculiar stories of weird people.
With the most bizarre characters we have seen in film for quite some time, this strange comedy leaves the viewer constantly off- balance. I rate it a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. In the print I saw the absurdist atmosphere is only enhanced by the peculiar subtitles, as if they were written by someone who did not quite have the hang of the English language. For example when an exasperated character apparently gives out with "for f**k's sake" it is translated "for the sake of f**k."
Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0418455/
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2007 Mark R. Leeper