Apples

Apples ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Upon a re-watch, it seems that this film is less about memory loss and more about the intentional construction of individual identity. What makes this film compelling is how it draws a line from trauma and pain to self-doubt and the desire for personal reinvention projects.

The “scientists” who are “helping” him learn how to live are really idiots.  The tasks that they recommend to him are just dumb, silly things, and many of them are actually dangerous and self-destructive.  None of them make him happy or feel more connected to who he is.  It’s amazing how silly this all is, but, the first time I watched this, I took the doctors and their assignments so seriously and completely fell for it.

A few things that stuck out this time:

- when the doctors casually discuss that they should recommend that their patients go to a protest, like it’s just something to do primarily for the purpose of self-discovery - I thought that was odd the first time through but it’s truly hilarious seeing it again now

- when the doctors go into his new home when he’s not there and just start eating the food he cooked - who does that?  They don’t seem to respect him and don’t hesitate to cross those lines of professionalism.

- when he sees that dog “malou” and its owner and acts all friendly with the dog but avoids interacting with the owner.  Earlier in the film, we see the same dog and owner in his apartment building so that’s his neighbor.  When he runs into them in his new neighborhood where he’s getting “treatment,” he not only remembers both of them, but he tries to avoid the owner because the owner would see through the game he’s playing - this is where it really clicks that:

1. The lead clearly doesn’t have amnesia because he remembers the dog and the owner, both when he sees them in his new neighborhood and when he saw them back at his apartment building
2. He’s doing this program for some other reason
3. He feels shame about all of this and doesn’t want anyone from his old life to find out.  This project isn’t about remembering who he was or finding his true self - it’s about running away from who he is and trying to create a new persona.

- why on earth are the patients asked to get in a car accident?  Like if someone actually had amnesia you wouldn’t just give them the keys to a car and say “go figure out driving on your own, and while you’re at it, try to get in an accident, too.”  That should have been a clue that this whole thing is a joke and that these “experts” are giving out bad advice.  The icing on the cake is that apparently the other woman in the program that he befriends is also a narcoleptic and falls asleep at the wheel and he barely even reacts hahahahaha. Just wild.

- when they’re in the car and she keeps asking him to pick the place for her to crash the car? Not sure why he needed to pick the place but he suddenly tells her to pull off and crash into a tree right after she catches on that he remembers all the words to “sealed with a kiss” because he’s been singing along with it in spite of himself.  It’s as if he’s fighting his own nature and trying to bury his own identity even as he’s ostensibly trying to get help finding out who he is.  He clearly already knows who he is - he just doesn’t want to be that person anymore.

- the way she uses him to help her complete these stupid tasks - they’re both so alienated from themselves that they don’t seem to see how weird it is to treat other humans as tools to use to help check some boxes on a list - but I guess we can all fall into that trap can’t we?

- the way he remembers what “track and field” is when she doesn’t and he immediately tells her to “forget it”

- the way he knows that 154 seconds isn’t 4 minutes, and almost corrects her but then keeps quiet - like he’s just disregarding all logic now

- when he goes to the pool to do the high dive and the instructions say “The truth is, we have all experienced jumping from somewhere high.  It’s a powerful experience.  Just climb up and do it.  Don’t be afraid, it’s not dangerous. 10 meters is nothing.” Lol - that clearly is not sound medical advice to just give out to any random person and expect them to follow without any supervision, especially if they might not remember how to swim

- that scene when he’s rocking out doing the twist, not because the program told him to, but just because he wants to; he also invited himself to the dance party with her, but doesn’t realize that she’s there on assignment (because she doesn’t tell him, even when he asks her why she said she has to stay there when he wanted to go home) - you can see the moment dawn on her when she realizes that she can use him to complete the one-night stand hookup requirement - she’s suddenly warm and engaging where before she was kind of distant and avoiding his questions.  He thinks they’re being spontaneous and free together all night, but it’s all just calculated moves for her.

- when he’s buying the apples and the grocer tells him that apples are good for memory and he puts them all back and gets the other fruit instead

- when he hears the instructions for the one-night stand and it says “you don’t even have to fancy her very much.  Just use her and take a photo. that’s it.” Just savage.  And then later he meets up with the scientists again and they’re like “you don’t have any pictures from the bar or the sex.  Haven’t you done that?”  As if doing the thing doesn’t count unless it’s photographed.

- again, he just looks soooo unhappy doing all these assignments

- the way these assignments feel so repulsively calculated and self-centered but also that’s sometimes what our thinking is, unfortunately

- the befriend a dying person assignment near the end - this is the one that breaks him - he tells the dying guy that he used to be married but his wife passed away; he makes the pastry that the guy asked for but the guy is already dead when he brings it to the hospital for him; he goes to the guy’s funeral but watches at a distance, and  - for the first time - he doesn’t follow the instructions on the tape to stay with the relatives and mourn with them - he seems to be realizing that this project is a waste of time

- visiting his wife’s grave and placing flowers there is a choice to own his identity as a husband and widower

- Finally returns to his old apartment - all the memories he’s been running from and suppressing - he’s now trying to break in through the window to get back there - he cleans up the dishes he’d left on the coffee table, opens the windows to let the light in - he’s making his home there again

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