Applesauce full movie review - Fascinating film, hard to define.
Applesauce is the story of a man named Ron, his wife, and their friends. It kicks off when Ron calls into a skeezy talk show to tell the worst thing he's ever done.
Before he can spit out his story he's interrupted, but the talk show and the subject of Ron's call come up again that evening when Ron and his wife meet with their friends for dinner.
After some cajoling and stalling Ron eventually tells the group the story of how back in his college days he accidentally severed a man's fingers by slamming them in a heavy door.
And once the story is over and the couples have gone home, the fireworks really kick off as the question "what's the worst thing you've ever done" is asked and answered in ways that are both comedic and tragic by turn.
And then someone starts sending Ron body parts.
That tone of comedy and tragedy echoes throughout the rest of the movie, alternating between bitter and sweet in a way that leaves the viewer more and more on edge as the film progresses.
The characters are interesting at first, funny, smart, and seemingly sophisticated. But as the plot unwinds we start to see that under the veneer of charm these are all deeply flawed, and generally despicable people. The adults in this film are children in grown up clothes. They're petty and selfish and spiteful at every turn.
To give any further summary of the plot would lead both to spoilers, and to a review several thousand words long. The story morphs and meanders from one thing to another in a way that doesn't immediately make sense. But slowly a theme becomes clear, a riff on the idea of retaliation endlessly leading to more retaliation. Applesauce is like the jazz graces its soundtrack: wild, improvisational, and unexpected as it tackles its theme.
Unfortunately the narrative and theme both overstay their welcome. The latter act of the film is badly in need of trimming, and it seems apparent that the filmmakers don't fully trust their audience to get what they're driving at. So much so that after too many examples of offence begetting offence, Ron flat out tells us the moral of the story, as if this were a Very Special Episode of some kids TV show.
But for all of its faults I can't dislike Applesauce.
It probably helps that it's really really funny, often in surprising ways (though again near the end of the film we've grown weary at laughing at such despicable people).
There's nothing artful here, no cinematic beauty to admire. The camera hovers close in on faces for long shots that are occasionally slightly out of focus. There is nothing pretty or appealing. This is an ugly story about selfish people.
It's a tough pill to swallow, but a heaping spoonful of comedy helps the medicine of Applesauce* go down.
*I still have no idea what's going on with that title though.
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