For audiences acquainted with the films of the “Greek Weird Wave”, and more specifically the output of director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster), Christos Nikou’s debut feature will feel somewhat familiar. Nikou’s first experience in the industry was on Lanthimos’ breakout hit Dogtooth, and there are clear traces of that film’s high concept, deadpan tone and general sense of absurdity in Apples. Written and directed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the new film imagines another sort of malady has taken hold of the world. Everyday people are being struck with sudden amnesia, mysteriously and permanently losing their memories. Those carrying identification, or with loved ones willing or able to track them down, are shepherded back into their old lives. But if nobody comes looking, then the government provides them with a new identity and provides a programme through which they can build new memories.
This is the case for Aris (Aris Serveyalis), who is released from hospital with a polaroid camera and a list of instructions that range from learning to ride a bike, to attending a costume party, to getting laid in the toilets of a club. He meets Anna (Sofia Georgovassili), a woman also recovering from amnesia, and the two set about completing their lists together. But how genuine a partnership can two people generate, when they are working to discover new identities? Nikou’s film is stacked with layers of ambiguity, posing existential questions about about memory, self and loss. It’s easy to pose such questions though, and while there is an appealingly surreal sense of humour to the film, answers are thin on the ground.