The premise for Apples, from Greek director Christos Nikou, is so bonkers it feels real: There’s a pandemic goin’ ‘round, and it’s claiming memories. How and why are never explained. All we know is that it strikes suddenly, attacks without prejudice, and causes immediate amnesia. It hits Aris (Aris Servetalis) while he’s riding the bus, causing him to miss his stop. “Which stop did you want?” the driver asks when he sees Aris still sitting there after the bus pulls into the station. Aris doesn’t answer. The driver asks another, “What’s your name?” Aris replies with a silent stare. “I’ll call an ambulance,” the driver says with familiarity.

With no identification card to notify next of kin, no memories to draw on, and no past to speak of, Aris enters a recovery program that assigns him a series of daily tasks and a Polaroid camera to document them with a hope that Aris will build a new life and flourish. Aris is dutiful in the program, but he’s also detached. There’s a sense that something beyond his misplaced memories has broken his spirit—an irrevocable loss well beyond middle-age loneliness. His only comfort: apples, which he eats by the bushel. “Yes,” a grocer says when he sees Aris stocking up on the ruby-red fruit, “good for the memory.”

Whether or not Aris intends to keep his memory sharp is a question left to the viewer. It certainly seems as if Aris wants to hold at least one memory at arm’s length—a feat director Nikou achieves aesthetically throughout the film. His color palette is cool; his framing is plain. No character behaves with recognizable emotion beyond curiosity, and the world around Aris feels depopulated. Greece has never looked this empty.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Apples/Μήλα (2020)
Directed by Christos Nikou
Written by Christos Nikou, Stavros Raptis
Produced by Aris Dagios, Iraklis Mavroidis, Christos Nikou, Angelos Venetis, Mariusz Wlodarski
Starring: Aris Servetalis, Sofia Georgovassili, Anna Kalaitzidou, Argyris Bakirtzis, Kostas Laskos, Costas Xikominos
Cohen Media Group, Not rated, Running time 91 minutes, Opens July 8, 2022

A version of the above review first appeared in the pages of Boulder Weekly Vol. 28, No. 12, “Six shorts and a feature.”