A funny, politically incorrect and, somewhere deep down, thoughtful black comedy, “Adam’s Apples” is the third and final film in helmer-writer Anders Thomas Jensen’s excellent trilogy centered on oddballs and misfits in Denmark. On home turf, film has already proved a hit; with careful handling, it could break out of the arthouse circuit in other countries.
Adam (Ulrich Thomsen) is a neo-Nazi thug who’s been sentenced to community service in a small church in the countryside. His supervisor is Ivan (Mads Mikkelsen), a priest who’s totally bereft of any sense of humor. When the sullen Adam, urged to tell what he wants to do during his community service, says he wants to bake a pie, Ivan assigns him to guard a nearby apple tree and bake a pie when the fruit is ripe.
Two other cons doing community service are: Gunnar (Nicolas Bro), a kleptomaniac with a history of sexually assaulting women, and Khalid (Ali Kazim), a permanently angry immigrant from Afghanistan who robs gas stations belonging to multinationals as a statement against capitalism.
Fifth person in the church is Sarah (Paprika Steen), a pregnant woman who’s down on her luck and seeking refuge. There are also increasingly violent visits from Adam’s gang of thugs, among whom is his friend, Holger (Nikolaj Lie Kaas).
The inter-action between these characters eventually leads to some sort of redemption for them all. On the way, helmer Jensen doses out his usual mixture of gags, slapstick and bone-crunching violence, successfully managing to walk the thin line between political incorrectness and dark comedy. It’s a tribute to Jensen’s smarts as a director that he is able to make his scripts funny while, when others handle his scripts, the result simply becomes distasteful (as in the Lasse Spang Olsen-directed “Old Men in New Cars”).
Nonetheless, Jensen’s films don’t appeal to all tastes. In the trilogy’s opener, “Flickering Lights,” one character slaughtered cows with a machine-gun. In “The Green Butchers,” the principal characters carved up corpses to sell in their butcher’s shop. And in “Adam’s Apples,” crows are slaughtered and a cat is mistakenly killed. Still, for those who groove on Jensen’s humor, there’s always plenty going on to appreciate.
Mikkelsen, Thomsen and Kaas — regulars throughout the trilogy — are again tops, and here get excellent support from Steen, Bro and Kazim. On the tech side, special kudos go to Sebastian Blenkov’s widescreen capturing of the beautiful Danish landscape.