Amidst a worldwide pandemic that causes sudden amnesia, middle-aged Aris finds himself enrolled in a recovery program designed to help unclaimed patients build new identities.
Greek cinema probably isn’t the first country that springs to mind when you think of international cinema but the country has quietly been churning out some impressively original works over the past few years. Yorgos Lanthimos (of ‘The Lobster’ and ‘The Favourite’) has received some critical and commercial success in the UK and the US, and it’s in the type of movies he started out making that ‘Apples’ sits alongside as a film that balances thought provoking themes with overt weirdness. This was Greece’s entrant for the ‘Best International Feature’ at this year’s Academy Awards and it made the February shortlist, however fell short of a nomination. I suspect, much as I did, that the voters perhaps found this just a little too odd for their tastes.
‘Apples’ takes place during a pandemic (how very current!), specifically one where people start to spontaneously suffer from amnesia and lose all of their memories and recollections. We experience this through Aris, a man who starts to suffer from the condition whilst sitting on a bus, leading him to a medical facility where it is established that he has no close friends or family who come around to enquire about him. As he is ‘unclaimed’ he is lift with limited choice but to enrol in a program designed to create new identities by going through a range of tests or experiences to help him build a new ‘self’. It is from this sad setting that ‘Apples’ uses Aris to explore the fragility of our independence and it speaks a lot to human nature, but I did find it just a little too odd to get fully on board with (I’ve felt this with quite a lot of Greek ‘weird’ cinema).
The film is as deadpan as they come with most of the comedy coming from a situational or surrealist perspective, with our protagonist Aris (Aris Servetalis) as detached as one man could ever be (even prior to the amnesia he appears to be this way). There are thought provoking elements here and I liked some of the quirkiness, but even at 90 minutes long I found ‘Apples‘ quite hard to fully connect with.
Directed By: Christos Nikou
Starring: Aris Servetalis, Sofia Georgovassili, Anna Kalaitzidou, Argyris Bakirtzis and Kostas Laskos