Saturday, October 24, 2020

AFI Fest Spotlight: Apples

I’m delighted to be covering a number of selections from AFI Fest 2020. The festival runs October 15th-22nd, 2020, and films are available to watch online during that time.

Directed by Christos Nikou
Festival Information

A movie about a pandemic might be a tough sell right now, but it’s possible that a sense of shared and universal experience could actually make the concept all the more relatable. While it is true that coronavirus and other diseases that have spread throughout the world in the past don’t discriminate, those with means have a disproportionate advantage over those without since they have access to care and the ability to be largely unaffected by missed work or lost wages. Being alone is another factor that can affect the severity of a person’s case and their chances for recovery since support through a difficult time is critical.

In Greece, a number of people are experiencing amnesia for unknown reasons, with no way to reverse the unexplained phenomenon. Many who end up in the hospital are located by their family members, who identify them and bring them home so that they can return to their normal lives. With no papers on him and no one to claim him, Aris (Aris Servetalis) is released into a recovery program that is designed to help him acclimate to not knowing who he is, by following instructions and reintroducing elements of memory into his life.

This film is decidedly reminiscent of past projects of Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, best known for their collaborations on “Dogtooth” and “The Lobster.” Like in those two films, there are distinct warning signs that what Aris is doing involves him blindly following instructions that may be designed to turn him into a specific type of person or to achieve an aim that will be of no benefit to him. It’s not clear if something slightly supernatural is at play or if any of the work done will serve to actually restore Aris’ memory, even to a functional degree, yet he has no choice but to do it because he does not possess the direction or knowledge to do anything else.

Servetalis is an expressive actor, who conveys much with his face that he does not through his infrequent and carefully-chosen words. As a fellow amnesiac, Sofia Georgovassili presents a different picture of the approach to the program in which Aris is enrolled, open to the activities and curious about them in a way that Aris is not. This film posits an extremely intriguing idea and explores it in an involving way, but ultimately, perhaps purposely, can’t reach a conclusion that feels appropriately satisfying.


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