- Emma Simmonds
- 4 May 2021
This wonderfully weird Greek drama is set during a pandemic of amnesia
This appealingly potty and eventually quite poignant drama is set during a very different pandemic from the one we are currently experiencing, and yet still manages ample real-world resonance. It's the first feature from Greek filmmaker Christos Nikou, the second assistant director on Yorgos Lanthimos's Dogtooth – and certainly seems inspired by the 'Greek Weird Wave'. Co-written with Stavros Raptis and unfolding in an Athens apparently untethered to any particular time period, Apples follows the middle-aged and mysterious Aris (Aris Servetalis) / patient number 14842, who we watch enrol in a neurological hospital's new identity programme, as outbreaks of sudden amnesia sweep the globe.
After being found on a bus early on with no identifying documents and no apparent memory of who he is, Aris is taken into the care of specialists led by Anna Kalaitzidou's helpful doctor. When she releases him back out into the world, unclaimed by any family members, Aris is set a series of sometimes unusual challenges, designed to kick-start his new life, which he obligingly completes and documents in the form of Polaroid pictures (he also listens to his instructions on a cassette recorder, enhancing the askew, retro feel). During one such task, involving a trip to the cinema, he meets fellow patient Anna (Sofia Georgovassili).
Servetalis is entirely compelling as an enigmatic, hirsute, awkward and slightly shifty man, who is plenty pitiable even before his backstory is exposed. It's a moodily shot and sometimes eerily atmospheric film that frames forgetting as both a blessing and curse, something to strive for as well as something to be struck down by, and it delves into themes of reinvention, alienation, loneliness and loss. Nikou's vision perhaps lacks the confidence and clarity of someone like Lanthimos, but the film's oddity and imagery is often very appealing, it's tied up surprisingly neatly, and for all its apparent affectation it feels very human at its core.
Available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema from Fri 7 May and in cinemas from Mon 17 May.