This quirky Danish film is short and undemanding, but thoroughly agreeable viewing. Director-writer Anders Thomas Jensen (The Green Butchers) has created a superb black comedy about an unlikely group of misfits trying to live normal lives as they cope with the tragedies that befall them.
The plot centers on Adam (Ulrich Thomsen, Kingdom of Heaven), a neo-Nazi sent to fulfil his community service quota in a small town under the supervision of Ivan (Mads Mikelsen, King Arthur), the local priest. During his stay, Adam becomes aware that Ivan is far more complicated than he appears, telling untruths about different parts of his life and seemingly completely blind to the reality of his situation. As his interactions with Ivan get weirder and weirder, a series of strange happenings at the church unearth some warped and surreal circumstances and events.
We don’t want to give too much away because this fable-like film is almost completely unpredictable, which makes it an utter joy to watch. Just as we begin to get a rhythm for the characters and tone, the movie shifts, taking us in new directions. It is at once violent, sad, funny and extremely poignant. But most importantly, it’s continually surprisingly, which makes this a charming viewing experience too.
The casting is superb: Mikelsen gives a magnificent performance as the vulnerable and wacky priest, and Thomsen is convincing as the fish out of water unable to comprehend his surroundings. Supporting actors, such as Nicolas Bro (We are the Champions) as the fat alcoholic, Ali Kazin (TV’s Defense) as the volatile immigrant and Ole Thestrup (TV’s Better Times) as the eccentric Dr Kolberg, round off a delightful array of personalities.
Endearing and original (something which is increasingly rare in the industry), Adam’s Apples is stimulating enough to keep the viewer more than entertained without requiring too much hard work. Despite the seemingly overt religious symbolism, it’s subtle, restrained and one of the better foreign films this year.