May 06, 2021
Christos Nikou’s black comedy about a plague of forgetfulness is intriguingly absurd but not as memorable as it thinks it is
Apples review – quirky amnesia mystery is funnily forgettable
Here is an enigmatically quirky Greek film about identity and memory, much talked about and talked up on the festival circuit. It’s the work of debut feature film-maker Christos Nikou, who cut his teeth as second assistant director on Yorgos Lanthimos’s pioneeringly weird Dogtooth in 2009 – that seductive film whose bizarre stylings ushered in an entire Greek new wave of cine-absurdism. This is a movie in that recognisable style, and I incidentally think the Greek auteurs really have brought absurdism back in ways not seen the first wave of Beckett, Ionescu and NF Simpson in the theatre.Apples is intriguingly deadpan and sometimes funny, though I couldn’t help feeling that it is also contrived, and even a bit flippant in a middleweight-arthouse mode, not quite as profound as it thinks but certainly displaying some impressively choreographed mannerisms of dysfunction.In Athens of the present day, or the near future, there is a new disease: amnesia. People are suddenly forgetting everything about themselves. Aris Servetalis plays Aris, a man who lives gloomily on his own; one day he leaves his flat, goes to sleep on a bus, and blearily wakes with no clue as to who he is. He is admitted to hospital, where no family member comes forward to take him away, and finds himself snacking on apples, trying to remember if he ever liked them or not. He is finally checked into an experimental new programme for amnesiacs who are languishing like unclaimed parcels in the lost property office. He will be moved into a featureless little apartment and coached in how to develop an entirely new identity.
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