Ta’am al Tufah, Ahmar or The Taste of Apples Is Red depicts the Druze sect of Islam, a sect that believes in reincarnation. That’s the first fact that comes in learning this sect that has residents on both Palestine and Syria. The second is that the film lives within the context of the war between Israel and Syria and the Syrian Civil War. That final conflict is the one that gets Sheikh Kamel (Makram Khoury) to reluctantly take his brother Mustafa (Tarik Kopty) back.
The thing about Apples is that it feels like it juggles too many story arcs within its 83 minute running time. The main one of course is about the revelation of why the community exiled Mustafa. The second is that Kamel’s daughter Salma (Ruba Blal) is a doctor who cares for women giving birth. One of those expectant mothers is Leila (Shaden Kanboura), whose child dies in a shocking way. That death is part of a convoluted Chekhov set up, which may pay off.
One of the major complaints about Apples is that child death scene and the deaths that follow it which feels too violent for some people, an opinion I disagree with. Some people also had problems with the reincarnation which is something only some people can complain about. The film uses those elements in a competent manner, and it does have a compelling villain in Daud (Soheil Hadad). He reveals Mustafa’s secret and the film competently lets the fallout of that revelation unfold.