Apples – Film Review
Fruits are renowned for having many health benefits and in Apples they are linked to the concept of memory. The grasp of memories is quite a fragile topic for many but they are often essential in the formation of one’s identity. However, it remains a mystery of life as to what the best coping strategies may be when faced with loss of life and the loss of memory. Apples is a charming film exploring this delicate connection with memory in a moving, eccentric tale where silence and glances can be more meaningful than the associated words.
Aris Servetalis as the protagonist, Aris, is captivating to watch in this endearing tale. The film straddles the romantic eccentricities seen within Amelie with the pandemic as a backdrop as the causal link to a wave of amnesia. Apples plays with whimsical constructs and an obsessive-compulsive main character as its message unfolds as Aris enrols on a recovery program to build a new identity. Servetalis’ expressive nature whilst sitting alone in rooms conveys that sense of isolation but tugs at the heart strings as the close ups unearth an emotional resonance and create the impression that Aris is perhaps not ready for this world as his gestures seem so innocent. Having amnesia therefore provides that ideal device for Aris to escape those seemingly painful memories of the past.
Apples, cleverly, does not fully reveal the extent of Aris’ past prior to his bout of amnesia but teases the audience with excerpts of information to unravel like a puzzle. Christos Nikou has therefore created an affecting compelling tale with this directorial debut and is an excellent storyteller. Apples is punctuated with voiceovers uttering tasks describing life experiences to be undertaken with the command to photograph each moment. But, is that real life? It is therefore a telling commentary on our Instagram focused lives where all moments and memories are captured by photos. The question these days is whether an event in our lives has truly occurred if there is no photographic evidence. Whilst Apples offers a silent commentary on this notion of social media there is the suggestion that we are effectively complying with a system’s orders as to how to create memories, similar to the taped instructions from the recovery program that Aris complies with.
Apples is a poignant but comedic character study. Reminiscent of Memento with the use of Polaroid as an active device, within the journey to re-live memories, the cinematography is aesthetically pleasing. There is the use of 4:3 aspect ratio to accentuate a claustrophobic environment and to demonstrate the narrow confines of Aris’ world dictated by amnesia. It is a powerful tool illustrating the power of the mind and the complexity surrounding memory loss.
Memories can be good or bad and Apples demonstrates how preferable it may be subconsciously to repress certain memories as a defence mechanism. Apples, whilst delving into these profound aspects of the psyche and the human condition, intertwined with the relationship to isolation, has a unique blend of humour with impeccable comic timing.
Servetalis’ visceral performance is magnetic to behold and his presence fills the screen within Apples, particularly when dancing to Chubby Checkers’ The Twist. Even with minimal exposition Servetalis provides such an empathetic portrayal, under Nikou’s skilful direction, and hypnotises the audience into Aris’ world within this amnesia focused tale.
Apples is a tender expression of emotions providing an innovative study of grief, memory loss and human interaction without pontificating. Nikou believes in show, don’t tell and whilst Apples is inspired by his personal experience, he allows the film to provide that immersive experience for audiences, at its own pace. The film provides that opportunity to examine our inner selves and our threshold for reacting to challenging situations. Apples therefore poses that difficult question as to whether it is preferable to bury painful memories or confront them. Apples provides a unique and moving insight into memory and is a mesmerising tale. Apples ultimately leaves the impression that sometimes the smallest sensation can be that trigger in order to break free from the chains of the past towards a future of hope.