Wednesday , October 21 2020
A study of the transformative power of faith

Movie Review: Adam’s Apples

Written by Caballero Oscuro

Adam is a middle-aged neo-Nazi sentenced to community service at a remote, rural church. Ivan is the long-suffering minister of the church tasked with controlling his unwilling charge. It’s not exactly a match made in heaven, but their darkly humorous relationship drives the highly original narrative of Adam’s Apples.

When Adam arrives at the church, Ivan allows him to choose a goal to achieve during his service time. Adam spots an apple tree on the church grounds, so he floats the ridiculously simple idea of baking an apple pie, which Ivan immediately accepts at face value. Unfortunately, the tree seems to be immediately cursed by various natural disasters that throw the simple plan into jeopardy. These disasters only add to the long string of personal bad luck experienced by Ivan, a faithful man who always manages to see good in everything in spite of his personal misfortune.

Adam is joined by two other convicts living at the church: a Pakistani immigrant with an itchy trigger finger, and an overweight kleptomaniac/sex addict. This combined menagerie of memorable characters is tasked with attempting to find common ground in spite of their seemingly insurmountable differences. Adam doesn't make his acclimation any easier by immediately hanging a framed portrait of Hitler on his bedroom wall, and he seems destined to maintain his brutish shell for the duration of his stay.

Although the film is propelled forward by the various misfortunes suffered by the faithful Ivan, it’s ostensibly a study of the transformative power of faith on the tough, uncaring skinhead Adam. He’s a character so calloused that he has no qualms about viciously punching Ivan inside the church, but also so complex that he immediately drives him to the hospital afterwards.

Adam’s Apples was written and directed by Oscar-winner Anders Thomas Jensen, a prolific Danish artist previously associated with the minimalistic Dogme 95 movement also followed more famously by countryman Lars von Trier. Here he abandons the stripped-down approach for a more traditional widescreen, mainstream production but keeps the focus firmly on his amusing, inventive story.

The two lead roles are played by long-time Jensen collaborators Mads Mikkelsen (Ivan) and Ulrich Thomsen (Adam). Mikkelsen has gone on to more recent international fame as the latest Bond baddie in Casino Royale, a well-deserved reward for the talents he displays here. Thomsen also contributes an outstanding performance, providing the necessary depth to his character to keep the audience guessing and caring about his ultimate disposition until the end.

Adam’s Apples is now playing in NY before expanding to select markets in the coming months. For more information, visit the website.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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