Adam's Apples

Adam's Apples

2005, R, 94 min. Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen, Nicolas Bro, Paprika Steen, Ali Kazim, Ole Thestrup.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 1, 2007

This Danish comedy, like most of that country's dramas, is dark, dark, dark. The film's humor offers an odd blend of subversively sly narrative mixed with bursts of sudden, sharp violence and goofy slapstick. A commercial hit in Denmark, Adam's Apples is now inching its way across North America. Jensen's sacrilegious story forces the viewer to feel empathetic toward the burly skinhead Adam (Thomsen) and scornful of the willfully misguided preacher Ivan (Mikkelsen). From the first second we see Adam as he debarks from the bus that drops him off in the countryside spot that is to be the location of his court-mandated community service, and when he keys the bus as it drives away, we know that Adam is an aggressive troublemaker. At first, Ivan, the minister for whom Adam must perform his community service, seems a decent spokesman for God, a charitable sort who is so confident that there are "no evil people" in the world that he doesn't even recognize a portrait of Hitler when he sees it. But gradually, we discover that this man of God, who believes that humankind is locked in a constant struggle with Satan, manages to bend all the dark realities he encounters into sunny storylines. Ivan's other wards at the church include a kleptomaniac (Bro) and an Afghan thief (Kazim), who robs gas stations as a political protest. Adam soon takes it upon himself to break the priest's morale (and nose), to evict this resident of the fool's paradise in which he lives. Certainly, there's an allegorical level to Adam, the wormy apple tree he's supposed to tend, his Bible that always opens to the Book of Job, and the car radio that always plays the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love" (with its lyrics about "living in a world of fools"). Adam's Apples is a follow-up to writer/director Jensen's equally dark comedy The Green Butchers, although he will probably be most recognizable to American audiences as the scriptwriter of such Dogma 95 classics as Mifune, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, and Open Hearts. His wry humor is a welcome addition to that austere aesthetic movement; however, his droll observations may be a tad too dry for wide-scale consumption.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Anders Thomas Jensen Films
Riders of Justice
Mads Mikkelsen is out for revenge in this sweet, strange Danish tragicomedy

Richard Whittaker, May 21, 2021

Men & Chicken
Danish black comedy is a nimble tone-shifter

Josh Kupecki, April 29, 2016

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Parallel Mothers
Almodóvar and Cruz's latest pairing unearths Spain's history

Jan. 21, 2022

This Job Will Change Your Life
This Job Will Change Your Life
Former staff reflect on the zigs and zags of life post-Chronicle

Sept. 3, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Adam's Apples, Anders Thomas Jensen, Ulrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen, Nicolas Bro, Paprika Steen, Ali Kazim, Ole Thestrup

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle