When life is lost, what’s left behind can leave an even greater mark on the soul.
The first feature directed by Christos Nikou, Apples tells the story of a middle-aged man (Aris Servetalis) who awakens with the terrifying realization that he has no memory. And he’s not alone. All around the world, people are suffering from the same problem, left adrift with no name or recollection of the past. Now enrolled in a rehab program designed to help people build new lives, the man is tasked to take part of everyday activities that range from riding a bike to engaging in sexual activity in the hopes of acclimatizing himself to society.
Although billed as a comedy, Apples is far more of a tragedy. The tale of a world recovering from a mysterious pandemic feels all too eerie in light of the past few years. However, without any terminal illness at stake, Apples leans into a world of forgetfulness. As the unnamed protagonist awakens on the bus, he feels lost and confused. He is sad and distraught, as though something has stolen his world away.
Admittedly, Apples portrays the tragedy with a hint of humour insofar as it depicts its pandemic with a sense of normalcy. In this world, amnesia is something that just simply happens to people and all are left to accept it. Whereas doctors attempt to spin the experience into an opportunity for their patients to experience a new life, the reality is that the ghosts of his past continue to haunt him. While no one knows who he is [not even himself], the greatest through line seems to be his interest in apples. Of all the details he could recall, it seems to be the one thing he remembers about his life. (In fact, in one humourous encounter, a fellow patient even refuses to partake in the fruit because ‘he couldn’t remember if he enjoyed them’.)
In a lot of ways, this is a film about one man search to find himself both literally and figuratively. As he leans into his new life, so too does he hope to find stirs in echoes of the past that he does not recall. Yes, he may be invited to experience things for the first time such as sexual intimacy or meeting new people, yet there is a deep sadness in his soul for the things that he has lost. Even though he has no idea what that may be, what he does recognize is that the world has changed and there’s a little he can do to make it what it once was.
However, at the same time, this is also a film about one man trying to understand his place in the world moving forward. The tragedy of his experience with amnesia has irrevocably changed him. With no clear grasp on his past, he’s left to lean into a future that seems far more uncertain. [I might not surprise you that an interest in apples is not much to build a life upon.] Even as he spends time with another young woman who’s also in recovery, he struggles to understand what it means to truly connect with another.
Even in a new ‘relationship’, he remains somewhat lonely.
In this way, the film truly does mimic our current post-pandemic world as many people are left wondering what life looks like beyond it. After such a world-shaking event has changed the way that we view interacting with one another (and ourselves), the pandemic has left its mark on society. Similar to this middle-aged man’s experience, it can be difficult to remember what life was like beforehand. As such, Apples connects deeply with the anxiety and fears of a world looking towards a future with very little certainty left within it.
While Apples carries a satirical edge, there’s very little to laugh about in this comedy. Performances are strong yet the tone is quiet as there’s a seriousness that pervades the film. Apples is not a film that makes you want to laugh so much is it does make you want to mourn for the life that we miss; a life that seems so far away and so much more full of joy that it probably ever actually was.
Apples is available in theatres on Friday, July 8th, 2022