It's good versus very, very evil in this Danish import

Adam's Apples

on March 16, 2007 by Tim Cogshell
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Danish director Anders Thomas Jensen's ( The Green Butcher ) latest black comedy pits God versus Satan in a flat-out, old-school donnybrook, and God is kinda getting His ass kicked. Mads Mikkelsen ( Casino Royale ) stars as Ivan, the rector of a pastoral community with a large church and a small congregation. His rectory also serves as a halfway house for recently released convicts, including a fat, alcoholic, passive-aggressive thief and rapist (Nicolas Bro); a sociopathic Pakistani armed robber and terrorist (Ali Kazim); and a former WWII-era Nazi and his new charge, a just-released ultraviolent neo-Nazi skinhead gang leader named Adam (Ulrich Thomsen).

With a religious devotion such that he has become blind to the realities of the world around him, Ivan refuses to acknowledge the existence of evil—or even very bad news, for that matter. A little rudeness on the part of some people is as far as he's willing to go—that, and his belief that God is always testing us. This, despite the fact that his father raped him as a child, his wife committed suicide, and his son has cerebral palsy—not forgetting the rapist, terrorist and Nazis with whom he lives. Adam is disconcerted by Ivan's perpetual bright-side perspective on even the most egregious of circumstances and sets about the task of breaking his spirit and severing his devotion to good and God.

The obvious climax of a film like Adam's Apples will be to reaffirm with joyous certainty in the power of good over evil, so it is the process rather than the outcome that makes the movie. The path that Jensen plots is one full of the improbable and unlikely, but never the impossible. With each dark twist, it seems less and less likely that the filmmakers will be able to extract themselves from the darkest depths of human tragedy that "evil" has wrought, such that the light of goodness may believably, if not purely plausibly, reign supreme in the end. But they do, and it's almost enough to make one want to look on the bright side of things, even when there isn't one.

Distributor: Outsider
Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Paprika Steen and Nicolas Bro
Director/Screenwriter: Anders Thomas Jensen
Producers: Tivi Magnusson, Kim Magnusson and Mie Andreasen
Genre: Comedy; Danish-language, subtitled
Rating: R for language and violence
Running time: 94 min.
Release date: March 16, 2007 NY, April 13 LA/Bos, 5/11 SF

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