In an uncanny version of Athens free from iPhones and where cassette tapes are still in vogue, a virus breaks out robbing citizens of their memories, leaving many to start relearning how to live again from scratch
A pandemic is sweeping the world. “Tell me something I don’t know,” you might think. In the universe of Christos Nikou’s Apples, which appears free from accoutrements of modern life like iPhones and laptops, this mysterious plague causes victims to lose all memory of who they are. You might be riding the bus one day and simply realise you’ve no idea where to get off.
That’s exactly what happens to Aris (Servetalis), a poker-faced gent from Athens who unfortunately leaves his house that day with no documentation on his person and has no family to attempt to find him once he’s admitted to the local “Disturbed Memory Department”. Unclaimed, he joins the pile of amnesiac citizens who remain unidentified and have to instead start afresh, and reexperience the key touchstones in life they've forgotten.
Rehabilitation proves curious. A doctor who sounds a bit like Tom Waits gargling glass sends Aris regular cassette tapes with details of tasks he has to perform like he’s a low-rent Ethan Hunt. These assignments range from missions possible (ride a bike, watch a scary movie) to missions more complex (befriend the dying, have sex in a club toilet), which he must document using a polaroid camera.
Apples is a rather gentler addition to the Greek weird wave, the run of Greek films – Dogtooth, Attenberg, Alps – characterised by intentionally affectless performances, darkly absurdist humour and settings that feel like uncanny parallel versions to our own reality. Nikou’s film is also disappointingly literal compared to those pleasingly obtuse films from his fellow countrymen and women. Still, it's not without its wry pleasures. Particularly fun is one amnesiac unselfconsciously explaining the plot of a – very popular – movie they’ve just watched, oblivious to its fame. But we’re not sure Apples will live long on your own memory.
Apples has its UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival, screening 28 Feb to 3 Mar – tickets here
Released 7 May by Curzon