directed by: Anders Thomas Jensen
starring: Ulrich Thomsen; Mads Mikkelsen; Nicolas Bro
Beth Caldwell says: "This must be the first
time I've ever favorably rated a film that got
|Michael says: "I’ve been very remiss on my
reviewing this year, so seeing Beth’s review of ADAM’s APPLES
gave me the impetus to share my thoughts as well.
"At first I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this odd Danish film written and directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. Despite a string of excellent screenplays (BROTHERS, WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF, OPEN HEARTS, MIFUNE) his sole directing credit before this was the inspired yet poorly realized THE GREEN BUTCHERS. I was pleasantly surprised by the end result of ADAM’S APPLES, and I think it’s a step in the right direction for Jensen as a director. Adam (a nearly unrecognizable Ulrich Thomsen from BROTHERS with a shaved head, pot belly, and nasty demeanor) is a neo-Nazi out on parole and evidently completing his sentence assisting a minister at a church. He replaces the crucifix on the wall of his utilitarian room with a portrait of Hitler, and bullies the other convicts rehabilitating under the care of Ivan, the ever-optimistic minister. Ivan’s ability to turn the other cheek is nearly preternatural as his faith in the grace of God blinds him to the harsh realities that not only orbit around him, but infuse his personal life. An abusive father, wife claimed by suicide, and a completely paralyzed son are the burden Ivan must bear, but he cannot cope with his reality and instead lives as if everything is fine. Adam’s agreed upon goal is to take care of the apple tree behind the church, and make an apple pie with the fruit, but as first hungry crows and maggots and then a violent lightning storm war against him, Adam finds a more damaging goal: to force Ivan to face reality and utterly shatter his faith.
"What makes ADAM’S APPLES successful are the awkward moments of black humor where you feel guilty for laughing. Jensen draw humor out of some truly horrible moments (the shooting of a cat and the tragedy of the paralyzed son among them), but in a black comedy, these moments must be grappled with soundly and not shied away from. The film wraps up fairly sweetly, but after plumbing the dark depths of Adam’s soul, it’s an ending that is heartfelt and well-earned.
"As to the Book of Job reference, I don’t know the story, so I won’t get into a debate about who plays the Job role. I agree that Ivan’s story is superficially more similar to Job’s, but it is Adam whose path we are following, and whose character is the one in need of growth. Also, it was great to see Chlotrudis nominated Paprika Steen in a very unglamarous role in this film. 3 ½ cats"
|Chris says: "Bier's longtime co-screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen is director in his own right, but his exceedingly black comedies have very little melodrama in them. The narrative of ADAM'S APPLES sounds like a sick joke (and that's exactly what it is): Adam (Ulrich Thomsen), a paunchy, middle-aged Neo-Nazi, is released from prison and sent to do community service in a rural church presided over by his opposite in temperament, Ivan (Mikkelsen again). The latter is a cheery priest who suffers from grand delusions that all of the bad things happening to him are a test from God. It's a rather silly, broad film, but at the very least, Jensen creates a delightfully absurd tone, whether he's needlessly killing a somnambulant cat or daring us not to laugh at a brain damaged child. Someday he may even make a great, biting satire. This isn't one, but it has a lot to recommend it: gorgeous scenery and cinematography, a deft, brave comic turn from Mikkelsen, and some inspired lunacy here and there—much of it involving a cover of a certain Bee Gees song. Oh, those wacky Danes. 3 cats"|