With a gifted ensemble that enhances the cinematic experience, Fingernails is a film that deftly and groundedly examines the ideas of love and relationships.
The basis of the movie is a machine that looks at a couple’s fingernails to see whether they are really in love. Anna, the lead character, starts to doubt her relationship as she starts to feel something for someone else.
The movie leaves the audience wanting more even though it gives glimpses of its promise and might have gone farther in exploring the implications of the love test and the questioning of love.
Contrary to what its concept might suggest, Fingernails is a more mature film. It seemed ready to go in one of two directions in its early going: either towards the wacky, poignant surrealism of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or towards the dark, skewering absurdism of The Lobster.
While the filmmaker Christos Nikou is interested in taking a more practical approach to explore the high ideals of love and relationships, both initiatives may be sensed at moments, especially the latter.
One clear virtue of this is that it keeps us near to the film’s outstanding actors, and the performances provide subtlety to an otherwise simple viewing experience.
It’s difficult not to wish Fingernails had more ambitious plans, though. It hints at its potential just enough to make us want to see those concepts explored further.
The title of this science fiction film refers to a world where a machine can tell if a pair is genuinely in love by examining only one fingernail from each of them.
It appears that this small invention had a rapid and profound impact on society; more than 80 percent of couples had unfavourable outcomes. Lucky for her and Ryan (Jeremy Allen White), Anna (Jessie Buckley) tested positive years ago.
However, it’s obvious that she’s been considering it lately. She accepts a job at a facility that not only conducts the tests but also puts couples through a series of activities aimed at strengthening their bond before revealing Ryan.
She meets Amir (Riz Ahmed) there, and as a bond grows between them, she begins to doubt the relationship that should be secure.
Jeremy Allen White and Jessie Buckley at a Fingernails restaurantJeremy Allen White and Jessie Buckley in Fingernails
Anyone familiar with the genre will be able to predict several possible outcomes for this film while they watch.
Should we be doubting this test’s validity and cheering for Anna and Amir to “Hang the DJ”-style defy the system?
Is Anna being forced to learn the hard way since the exam is always correct? Can outcomes vary over time, does a happy ending not always follow real love? Fingernails approach its response with a nonchalant demeanour.
Nikou presents his performers as the only source of answers while letting us sit with the questions. Actors Buckley, Ahmed, and White are all really gifted, and this movie wants them to be kind of like potential pseudo-cyphers.
People in this world are acutely aware of how our conventional interpretations of love have failed them; even if the actors’ facial expressions appear straightforward, they linger too long, reminding us that we can never be certain of the underlying emotional reality.
They are the ones who, in particular Buckley, provide such excitement and enjoyment to this movie.
It ought to be higher. The institute’s overuse of clichés has occasional moments of comedy, and the main relationships have some dramatic suspense, but the overall examination of love is a little too cowardly.
Fingernails’ formal consistency points to a more resilient social structure than would probably be necessary for an emotionally sincere examination of this idea (one that isn’t intended as satire or humour).
The Leftovers, which explores the numerous, seismic ramifications—both personal and societal—of 2% of the world’s population abruptly and mysteriously going missing, seems, in my opinion, to be the perfect parallel.
Similar to how this love test has upended a fundamental aspect of human existence, Nikou’s film appears to recognise that everything would have to change in light of this new reality.
It may toe the line between sarcasm and sincerity, but its true goal is to capture the heartfelt viewpoint that made the previously mentioned HBO series so remarkable. Simply said, this script doesn’t delve far enough.
Luke Wilson in Fingernails, seeming inquisitiveLuke Wilson wearing nail polish
The most intriguing concept in the movie isn’t really about any couples.
Employees at the institute Anna joins are dissatisfied with their romantic life in one way or another. The founder, portrayed by Luke Wilson with a worn-out optimism, had a bad outcome in his marriage, yet he speaks about his job with the confidence of someone who believes they are contributing to the larger good.
Like Amir and Anna, he believes in love despite the overwhelming and cruel obstacles. People’s comprehension of love has decreased as a result of this exam, which was intended to provide clarity, yet romantics persevere; these individuals are driven to this line of work because they want to be around the real deal.
If you were to follow that path, maybe over the course of a series, you would have something genuinely amazing.
Fingernails is currently accessible for streaming on Apple TV+, having debuted in select theatres on October 27. The 113-minute movie has a R rating for language.