One is a form of torture, the other is a movie released by Apple.
You figure out which is which.
dir: Christos Nikou
Fingernails is an anti-rom com which is still somewhat a rom com. It almost acts as a parody of rom coms, while using the tropes of rom coms to further its belief that love is and always should be inexplicable.
This is the least science-fiction-y science fiction based flick that you could ever watch. There’s nothing depicted that looks like anything that you wouldn’t have seen in the 1980s-1990s. But conceptually we are dealing with a world where people can get scientific confirmation as to whether, as a couple, they are truly in love.
So. If “love” becomes measurable and quantifiable, what does that mean for actual relationships?
In this cowardly old world, when a couple have been together for a while, they go to a place, the Love Institute, and have one of their fingernails ripped off. The two fingernails are put into a machine, and then the machine divines whether the two people are perfectly in love with each other.
Most couples who take the test fail. Get zero per cent. Other couples get a 50 per cent result, meaning one person loves the other more, or that one of them is faking it till they make it.
What this means is, I guess, people who don’t pass the test don’t stay together as couples. People who refuse to do the test don’t stay together, because someone will always doubt the other’s commitment.
And even couples who do the test, and get 100 per cent positive results, well, even they have their doubts.
Anna (the great Jessie Buckley, who is mastering the art of being really good in complicated films that don’t always work) is in a relationship with Ryan (Jeremy Allen White, who most people know as the hot chef guy from The Bear). They’ve passed the test. 100 %. What more could anyone want?
Well, what if they could be even more in love? Anna has been looking for work as a primary school teacher, but instead goes to an interview at the Love Institute, that runs courses for couples before they undertake the test.
I have no idea how the fingernail test works, but I also extra don’t understand how if that test is somehow scientific and definitive, how doing a course beforehand changes anything.
But Anna doesn’t care. She worries (I think?) that even if her and Ryan are 100 % meant to be together, there could be something in the courses that could make them even more in love. So, since her partner has no interest in doing the courses, she has to become an instructor in order to get the valuable knowledge.
The courses are, of course, absolute bullshit. She is paired with Amir (Riz Ahmed), who is clearly making up shit as he goes along. He is considered to be a good instructor in this love business, but it’s basically crap. The training involves subjecting couples to “meet cute” like circumstances, under some artificial pressure or tension, in order to deepen their feelings. As an example, one proposed action involves getting someone to voluntarily strap electrodes to themselves and shock themselves when their partner leaves the room. The theory being, such pain would negatively reinforce the feelings of loss when their beloved leaves the room, thus making the person even more in love with them.
If you couldn’t see this from a million miles away, the question Anna asks herself is, if I’m 100 % with Ryan, scientifically confirmed, why do I have feelings for Amir?
I mean, sure, Amir is funny, and has a perfectly symmetrical face, and dances like a champ, but Ryan is the hot chef guy Carmy from The Bear, so why can’t you be happy with what you’ve got?
Other couples around Anna and Ryan also have their doubts. One couple they are friends with who previously tested 100% positive, undertakes the test again, only to get another 100%. And yet this never reassures people for that long. People have doubts, or maybe people change?
This flick was made by the same chap who made a strange flick from the covid era that I watched called Apples, about a world where people are spontaneously forgetting who they are, and an institute of dorks wearing white lab coats gives them strange and pointless tasks to complete in order to help them rebuild their lives.
This is pretty much the same flick, except with some more animated performances (mostly, since the other flick was deliberately flat all the time), and more references to Notting Hill, and French versions of romantic songs.
Why French? Because it’s more romantic that way.
Clearly the flick is saying science can’t really do anything when it comes to love, and manufactured environments and bullshit scenarios can’t guarantee anything either. And even people in love can love other people?
Okay. This would all have possibly been okay if it actually built towards something, but the flick pretty much has no steam to build up, no momentum beyond the obvious (Will they? Won’t they?). And I was certain that it was going to build up to a moment which shows that even the scientific underpinnings of the premise are bullshit, but no, everyone adheres to it, everyone believes in it, and no-one can reject it.
But they can just pull out all their fingernails instead. It’s frustrating and flat, and I honestly don’t think it pays off, and I didn’t enjoy it ultimately despite the fact that I would watch Jessie Buckley and Riz Ahmed for two hours even if they were working the counter at a McDonald’s.
That would have had more drama and feeling than this does. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to get what they’re saying about love. I get it, it’s vast and unquantifiable, but you know it when you feel it, and this flick didn’t make me feel it.
Though on the plus side, it does have a lot of music by Alison Moyet, so that’s good?
6 times I thing I would rather lose a fingernail or two than watch this flick again out of 10
“Sometimes being in love is lonelier than being alone.” – make sure not to watch this as a date movie - Fingernails