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Adam's Apples

I've been away from Zurich for a while, and one of the things I missed the most was my favourite cinema. So last night, I didn't need my arm twisted much (by Hanspeter) to go and see the Danish film Adam's Apples (warning: Flash content).

Imagine a church community made up of four people: Ivan, the reverend, who lives Jesus' philosophy to offer the other cheek when slapped on one. Ivan is father to Christoffer, a spastic-retard, and widow to his late wife, who killed herself not being able to handle the retardation of their child. Ivan, of course, denies all this and treats Christoffer like a regular, jovial and energetic child, and lulls over the loss of his wife in an accident. If someone get too close to Ivan, he'll bleed from his ear. Ivan is played by Mads Mikkelsen, who also plays Le Chiffre in the latest Bond movie "Casino Royale" (which I'll cover in another post).

Then there's Sarah, a dosser who got off with a man she didn't know or love and now expects a child. Because of her drinking problem, the child is said to have a 40% chance of being disabled. She cannot handle it and runs to Ivan for advice.

Khalid is a Saudi who's on parole at the church after plenty of armed robberies of Statoil stations as part of his mission to destroy the Statoil empire. He speaks broken Danish (wonderfully translated in the subtitles), seems extreme at most of his actions, but all he really wants it is to return to Saudi Arabia. He's been at the church way longer than his parole, saving money but also just enjoying the innocence.

Gunnar is a massively obese ex-tennis player who turned to overeating and alcohol after a ball of his was wrongfully judged to be out, causing him to lose an important game. He's at the church on parole for small-scale thievery and plays a role somewhat reminiscent of Lenny in "Of Mice and Men:" stupid but kind. He is also way beyond the end of his parole.

There's also a doctor who seems to be the only one with a firm grasp of reality, but his sarcasm overshadows that completely.

One day, Adam arrives. Adam's a misanthropic neo-nazi on parole, sent to the church to be cured. Adam calls himself evil and seems to be just that: he cannot deal with niceness, especially not the straioght-up, disarming kind displayed by Ivan — in fact, he's the kind of guy who'd slap the other cheek even if not offered.

Adam's task is to care for the apple tree (which is everyone's pride) and bake a cake from the harvest. As the story develops, Adam's fight against Ivan's benevolence reaches hilarious heights as the characters seem to exchange exactly those sentences that the other didn't want to hear.

When later a group of neo-nazis join the battle, as well as what would have to be called God, everyone (characters and movie-goers) are left wondering who's after whom, and sundry other questions on morale.

The film was once again a great display of Scandinavian cinematography, which I've grown to like a lot over the years of being a regular at this cinema. Despite the somewhat flat story and the surreal element of God in one scene (and only one), I can hartily recommend it. The actors are doing an amazing job, and in the end, the movie is primarily funny, not because of jokes or forced humour, but because of the dryness and darkness of what's happening between what seems to be average people like you and me on the screen.

NP: The Flower Kings / Paradox Hotel