Anyone who knows me well has likely accepted the fact that I hold no truck for the sentimental. Any kind of romanticised emotional mugging just rubs me up completely the wrong way, and a swell of strings in a film is usually accompanied by rising bile from the pit of my stomach. The way to my heart is heavily guarded, the walls surrounding my emotional core fortified through the years by unswerving fealty to a mindset of pure, dogged cynicism. To crack this defence is no mean feat, and none could be more surprised than I to discover Christos Nikou’s debut feature would deliver some warmth to the frigid void inside me that barely passes as a soul.
The secret to Apples‘ efficacy, in this respect, is in the subtlety of the approach. The term ‘Greek Weird Wave’ easily lends itself to the film if considering its style and the abstract nature of the plot, but this is unique amongst its peers in that Nikou manages to successfully smuggle sincere and genuinely affecting sentiment into the mix. And I use the term smuggle with intention, because it’s achieved in the slightest of manners. The absurdity of the plot, uncanny characterisation and dialogue typical of the movement are in fact clever sleight of hand, with the delivery of an emotional payload coming almost completely unannounced.
You’ll notice that I have not relayed so much as a single plot point or allusion to any of the key themes of the film, and as we’re coming to the end of the review, that I’ve been brief. This is also intentional. The best way to approach Apples is without a preconceived idea of what to expect, experiencing its quietly unravelled multi-layered delights first-hand. Much of its immediate charm lies in its unique character, with post-viewing pause for reflection granted by the aforementioned emotional Trojan Horse. To deconstruct in further detail would be to spoil some of the surprise. Suffice to say, it is not only an accomplished effort in its own right, particularly for a directorial debut, but it also stands to become one of the Adelaide Film Festival highlights of 2020, and comes highly recommended for all lovers of the weird and the wonderful.