by HELEN GEIB
Adam’s Apples is a Danish film written and directed by Anders Jensen, screenwriter of After the Wedding and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself. A commercial and critical success in Denmark upon its original release in 2005, it is just now getting a very limited American theatrical release.
It’s a pity, but not a surprise that this film is playing so few theaters. It’s not a surprise because it’s a film from an obscure foreign cinema, subtitled and without any particular arthouse credentials or marketing hook. I say it’s a pity because this is a wonderful movie. I can’t tell you to rush out and see it in the theater because it’s probably not playing anywhere you can get to, but I do hope you’ll pick it up someday on DVD.
The marketing materials – trailer and poster – struggled unsuccessfully to summarize the story, convey the tone or capture the appeal of the film. I can’t be too critical of that failure. Adam’s Apples is a difficult film to describe. I won’t write much about the plot, partly because this is a character-driven rather than plot-driven film, but mostly because the gradually unfolding series of twists and turns and surprising revelations is one of the movie’s many pleasures. If you ever see it, you’ll be glad for my reticence.
Adam’s Apples is about the collision of two men, a minister and a neo-Nazi with diametrically opposed worldviews. There are a handful of satellite characters, but this is essentially a two man play with themes of repentance, redemption, suffering and hope. The title’s suggestion of Biblical overtones is entirely intentional.
Now discard whatever you’re thinking the movie is like based on what you just read about the story. This film defies expectations, in its plot and characters and even more so in its tone. This is a movie of dark comedy and deadpan wit. The closest comparison that comes to mind is the films of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, but warmer and livelier in the storytelling.
The performances are wonderful, the script and direction intelligent and nuanced. I laughed a lot. My intellect was satisfied and my heart was warmed.