After working as an assistant director for Yorgos Lanthimos and Richard Linklater, Christos Nikou gives us his directorial debut film, Apples.
It feels like the perfect time to release this film with its grey and isolating unveiling of identity, remembrance, and loss of that remembrance. Nowadays, films set in the backdrop of a pandemic or an isolated-type society are getting a bit tiresome and less appealing. A film rarely uses the quarantine facet successfully. Recent examples that use the encapsulated feeling correctly are films like She Dies Tomorrow (2020), The Pink Cloud (2021), and The Human Voice (2021). Apples has an exciting way of scrutinising the balance between life and loss in a symbolic manner that helps the film rationalise it.
Set amidst an unexplained worldwide pandemic that causes sudden amnesia and stupor, where the digital and file aspect of technology appears not to exist. A middle-aged man named Aris (Aris Servetalis) finds himself registered in a recovery program designed to help unclaimed and undisclosed patients to build new identities. He has prescribed daily tasks via cassette tapes to create new memories and document them on camera. Meanwhile, Aris slithers back into an ordinary and everyday life in which he meets Anna (Sofia Georgovasili), who is also a woman in recovery.
Apples features some familiar styles and techniques used by Yorgos Lanthimos in his previous work, especially The Lobster (2015) and Dogtooth (2009). Another similar aspect that this film has compared with Lanthimos’ work is a creative and interesting environment; however, Apples has a warmer tone and more profound compassion, holding a lighter touch in humanity. With that sense of humanity and dash of heart, it has moments that lift you to contemplate the value of good and bad memories that a person has passed through life. This film is another addition to today’s Greek cinema’s weird wave, but it does not match Lanthimos’ early work.
Stony performances, risible yet dark humour and different unnatural settings; Apples has all the new Greek wave of filmmaking styles and techniques. At times, the film is too literal than it needs to be. Still, this ambitious directorial debut from Nikou delivers an intriguing story that cross-examines how we choose to remember. It blends a dark frame of mind with a dash of comedic absurdity in an exciting way that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. Although it does not meet its full potential, it is a film hard to forget. The film takes you into a peculiar mind space of forgetfulness and recall, making Apples a movie worth watching.
Official submission of Greece for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category of the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.