Hidden Gems: Adams Aebler (Adam’s Apples)

Zoe Higgins 3 May 2013

Adams Aebler (Adam’s Apples); Anders Thomas Jensen, Denmark, 2005

The Danes have a particular sense of humour. It’s dark, deadpan, and inexplicable; some might call it sick. I love it. And this story of redemption, optimism, apple pie and neo-Nazis is the best example I’ve seen in a long time.

Adam is a priest in a rural parish who, despite constant misfortunes, remains stupefyingly optimistic. The film follows Adam’s Pollyanna-esque struggle to reform his community-service charges: in this case, a brutal skinhead, a sometime terrorist-burglar, and an alcoholic rapist. This journey of a group of damaged people would, in Hollywood hands, be purest schmaltz; Jensen makes it work as twisted black comedy. His opaque, uncomfortable humour (of the ‘wait-are-they-still-joking?’ variety) lets the film spin and play with issues of faith, hope, evil and redemption without ever coming close to moralizing.

Adam’s Apples combines philosophy with deadpan humour, bleak irony, and occasional surges of real emotion. It might even be a little bit uplifting. And it has, without a doubt, the funniest onscreen shooting you’ll ever see.

Zoe Higgins