Apples review: A tender and absurd story of a memory loss pandemic

0

New Scientist Default Image

Courtesy of Curzon

Set in a world where a mysterious illness has puzzled doctors, Christos Nikou’s Apples was bound to be labelled timely when it premiered at the 2020 Venice Film Festival back in September.

Far from being about covid-19, though, the pandemic in Apples sees people suddenly lose their memories. Once amnesia strikes, they are put in a recovery programme designed to help them reintegrate into society and build new identities.

The protagonist is Aris, played by Aris Servetalis, whose performance becomes more heartfelt and affecting as the 90-minute story plays out. It is somewhat reminiscent of the work of Oscar-nominated director Yorgos Lanthimos (which makes sense because Nikou has worked with his compatriot in the past), but Apples is much drier than Lanthimos’s The Lobster and The Favourite.

Advertisement


This makes it a bigger challenge for viewers. As a result, Apples won’t be for everyone ­– especially during its opening scenes, as Nikou combines his slow-burn approach with a bleak, chilly ambience. During these moments, the director’s collaboration with cinematographer Bartosz Świniarski at least ensures that the film is always visually arresting, and never showily so.

Once Aris returns to his old life, it all becomes more generally appealing as it taps into a kind of humour. This is buoyed by the arrival of Anna (played by Sofia Georgovassili), who also has amnesia and strikes up a friendship with Aris.

The film’s existential ruminations also start to reward, too, as alienation, loss and identity are explored in a gentle and profound manner.

The key to Apples’ growing impact is undoubtedly Servetalis. Quiet and understated, the 44-year-old picks and chooses moments to reveal Aris’s heart, ambition and vulnerabilities. This serves to make them all the more powerful, and soon the sight of him smiling, laughing and even dancing becomes as rousing as a knockout punch or romcom smooch in a lesser film.

Nikou’s disciplined and patient approach only adds to the feeling, as he subtly makes the viewer root for Aris to find a connection or something that he’s passionate about.

All of this might not build to the most satisfying of conclusions, as Nikou goes for a vague and open-ended farewell. But that feels appropriate considering the odd mixture of tenderness and absurdity that Apples aims for, and, for the most part, pulls off.

Apples is out on 7 May on Curzon Home Cinema.

More on these topics:

Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here