What else can be around this dark corner but redemption?

Adamís Apples

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


             ďAdamís ApplesĒ is a tough sell. So rather than hyping or demolishing it, how about a few thoughts that might trigger either your quirky appreciation of the improbable or your straightforward dislike of the impossible. Then you alone can decide whether to see it Ė without any help from me.

            When Adam (Ulrich Thomsen) arrives by train in a Danish village, he is met by the local pastor, Ivan (Mads Mikkelsen). Adam, we learn, is newly released from jail and will serve a community service term under Ivanís compassionate eye. Adam is a neo-Nazi who will hang a picture of Hitler on his wall. Already on this redemptive campus are Gunnar (Nicholas Bro), a sexual assaulter and thief, and Khalid (Ali Kazim), an Afghan ideologue who robs gas stations that symbolize multinational power.

            If you have an advanced sensitivity to dark humor, hereís where the comedy comes in: Ivan is no ordinary pastor. His physical realm is his beautiful church, always empty, and a metaphorical apple tree of which he is very proud. His emotional realm is entirely different. His wife died, leaving him with a child completely crippled and confined to a wheel chair by cerebral palsy. But Ivan talks of the childís fine progress with his homework and other projects of a mind now gone to some distant place. There is no reality for this minister or for his flock of three Ė make that four with the arrival of Sarah (Paprika Steen), a pregnant woman looking for help. The image of Sarahís predicament with this quartet of loonies does bring a rolling chuckle as we realize how carefully the group has been constructed to explore unreality.

            Adam, it turns out, has a circle of thugs for friends, and they turn up now and then to beat people senseless, something Adam has already done to his minister. After that particular beating, Ivan the minister drags his bloodied self from the floor and announces quietly to Adam that heís going to the emergency room.

            Until that moment I would not have believed I would catch myself laughing at cruelty, but thatís what is meant, perhaps, by a finely honed sense of the impossible. The Reverend Ivan has no reality, only his faith. Every time he starts to talk, a religious lesson issues forth. He excuses everything on religious grounds, far fetched beyond imagining, including the fact of his own beating by Adam and of Adamís determination to erase his faith.

            The movie is full of politically incorrect words and actions and a main character who floats in another world. He sees only good. The neo-Nazi sees only evil. What else can be around this dark corner but redemption? But not of the ordinary sort. Anders Thomas Jensen wrote and directed the film and found a number of fans in Cannes and on the festival circuit. Only the final wrap up tickled my funny bone, but then Iím a little too literal minded for sophisticated darkness.

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