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Adam’s Apples (Denmark)


The old saying, “everything happens for a reason”, has hardly been more applicable than in Adam’s Apples. Adam Pedersen (Ulrich Thomsen, Hitman) has been released from prison for community service into the care of a priest, Ivan (Mads Mikkelsen, Casino Royale). Ivan is the purest example of an optimist with devout faith in God and all of his actions, while Adam acts as Ivan’s antithesis. The two are stuck in conflict with dire results for Ivan that become more severe as their relationship progresses.

Grade:

Early on, Ivan remarks, “If you only look for evil, then the world is evil.” Adam’s prison hardened exterior and neo-Nazi upbringing have created a man full of hostility and hatred that lead to extreme bitterness and envy when dealing with Ivan’s unflappable enthusiasm. Adam finds a perverted pleasure in destroying Ivan’s aura of happiness that resulted from countless tragedies and traumas. Throughout we are puzzled by Ivan’s actions and his inability to properly respond to anything remotely negative. A woman, Sarah, comes to Ivan for assistance regarding her handicapped baby, but Ivan shifts the conversation to the measurement and amount of cookies Adam had retrieved for them. These moments show Ivan’s condition and perception of the world around him. Details of this perception are brought to light the more Adam pushes Ivan to the brink of psychological destruction.

The film is rife with religious symbolism, such as the Book of Job and Adam’s apple tree (I am purposely being vague to allow you to discover the symbols on your own and interpret them as you like, though many are obvious). I found it comforting to see Mads Mikkelsen not portraying a villain or twisted killer (see King Arthur). His portrayal of a man determined to be optimistic, but slowly being beaten down (literally and figuratively) is painful, yet captivating to watch. The other convicts at the church, Gunnar and Khalid, provide odd moments of dark comedy coupled with their own demons creeping out. Meanwhile, there is a constant ominous soundtrack that seems more appropriate for a slasher film giving Apples an even more somber, depressing tone.

The film is beautifully shot. The Danish countryside is captured nicely to counteract an increasingly dark storyline. There are some scenes of fairly brutal violence, but they are few and far between. Apples is a testament to the influence faith can have on a man and what that man will become once his faith disappears. We are shown a new insight into the belief systems of men and how they interact when forced into confrontations. Adam constantly challenges why Ivan is so devout despite his hardships. Ivan responds by providing concrete evidence that everything does happen with a purpose.

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