Since the start of covid lockdown in March of 2020, there’s been a slew of pandemic-themed new releases that have hit the market. Some shot during the pandemic, some narrowly completing post-production at the tail-end of the first wave; numerous filmmakers have attempted to specifically analyse the psychological effects of the recent rise of covid-cases through different genres and themes. However, the most creative pandemic-themed film to be released to date is Christos Nikou’s Apples. An absurdist dark-comedy about the evolution of the human condition and the value of memory itself, Apples tackles some rather difficult questions in regards to basic forms of empathy and learning. Using the plot-device of permanent amnesia as it’s main inciting spark, the film’s remarkably quirky concept never feels overbearing.
There is always something to chew on thematically in Apples. Whilst the plot structure and observational protagonist are undeniably simplistic in nature, it’s the observations of Aris — the lead character in the film — that drives the story and message. Using a 4:3 aspect ratio to visually convey the restricted mindset of the fleeting hippocampus, and a muted colour palette to represent the perception of abstraction and forgetfulness itself, the film uses the most out of its eclectic toolbox of visual storytelling techniques to embody a feeling of absent-mindedness. The direction is consistently sharp and self-aware, where the visual aesthetics and stylings of the film never become obnoxiously brandish.
As for Nikou’s intent with the film, it seems as though Apples is an incredibly personal project for the young director. The film is a story of anguish, a tale of coming to terms with the new normal in a time where everything seems to be peeling away. A time where the identity of the innocent is unfairly robbed away from them. It’s the psychosomatic element and relatability factor of the film that makes Apples so undeniably inventive. Instead of detailing the abnormal, Nikou is far more interested in highlighting the mundane. How simple events can become long-lost routine, and it is only when we are forced to distance ourselves from these casual fragments of life where everything seems completely altered for the worst.
The ambiguity in the film’s finale does ultimately raise far more questions in regards to Nikou’s intention with Aris and his journey of self-discovery. But for what the film attempted to state in regards to the human condition and the necessary compulsion of human contact, Apples is an undeniable success. The film is ultimately a beautiful addition to the ever-growing film movement of the Greek Weird Wave, and is an unforgettable piece of contemporary cinema that carries a small load with a great emotional punch.
Dir: Christos Nikou
Scr: Christos Nikou
Cast: Aris Servetalis, Sofia Georgovasili, Anna Kalaitzidou, Argyris Bakirtzis
DOP: Bartosz Swiniarski
Country: Greece, Poland, Slovenia
Run time: 90 minutes
Apples screened at this year’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinema as part of the Panorama International program.