A friend called me the other evening and said, “You’ll never believe it, but I rented a film with subtitles.”

Good for you, I thought…try something new.

Subtitles are nothing new for me, but finding something different, which distinguishes itself without trying too hard, seems to be. My friend’s revelation made me think about a recent small but fun revelation of my own.

If you’re a cinephile like me and feel like you’ve nearly seen it all, it may take quite a bit to get your blood pumping, to make you go “Hmm.” My favorite genre for generating this sensation (a comfort zone, for me) is dark comedy. Heck, I love the likes of the Coen brothers, Tarantino, and Guy Ritchie, but even their sadistic twists and frankly contextualized violence barely make me blink anymore.

Leave it to the Danes to provoke some attention in my jaded movie-watching corner. I recently watched a Danish film called Adams aebler /Adam’s Apples adams2(2005), and I really did not know what I was in for. The reviews are very mixed—and, truly, this is NOT a film for everyone.

OK, don’t get all excited. This is no Days of Wrath (1943) or Babette’s Feast (1987)—two of many award-winning Danish films. But it is a kick in the pants.

In this silly yet startling caricature/morality play, a neo-Nazi (Adam) is released from prison and must do community service at a small church in the country. The priest (Ivan) who runs the program has the ultimate Pollyanna complex, which Adam takes it upon himself to beat out of him…with surprising results that are hilarious after the initial discomfort.

Adam is played by Ulrich Thomsen, a prolific actor whom I first saw in Festen / The Celebration (1998), a film that was riveting as a car accident but a bit too bleak for me to enjoy. The priest, stoic and mad as a hatter, is Mads Mikkelsen, most recently seen as Le Chiffre in Quantum of Solace (2008). Ivan’s other wards are fat ex-tennis-playing con Gunnar (Nicolas Bro) and aspiring terrorist Khalid (Ali Kazim), who are later joined by the pregnant Sarah (Paprika Steen) who comes to the priest for some less-than-stellar advice. Continue reading