In Christos Nikou’s dystopian sci-fi film, “Fingernails,” love is a complex, painful affair, measured by an unconventional method. In this near-future world, individuals can test the authenticity of their affection by having a fingernail pulled and analyzed by a machine, determining whether their love is genuine. The story follows Anna (Jessie Buckley), an idealistic schoolteacher turned Love Institute instructor, who questions her marriage after developing feelings for her colleague, Amir (Riz Ahmed), despite having passed the fingernail test with her husband, Ryan (Jeremy Allen White).
Nikou’s film challenges the societal norms of monogamy and long-term relationships, exploring the fear of wasting time in a partnership dictated by societal expectations. Despite its unique premise, “Fingernails” raises intriguing questions about commitment and intimacy, albeit with some missed opportunities for a deeper exploration. The film focuses primarily on Anna and Amir, neglecting other potentially compelling narratives within the diverse couples passing through the institute.
While the film’s limited perspective might be seen as a drawback, the performances of Riz Ahmed and Jessie Buckley shine, elevating the narrative with their chemistry. Marcell Rév’s cinematography beautifully captures their expressive faces, highlighting their allure in warm, captivating hues. The film’s deliberate pacing allows for an immersive experience, drawing viewers into the characters’ emotions and dilemmas.
Comparisons can be drawn between “Fingernails” and other complex love stories, such as Celine Song’s “Past Lives.” Both films explore the delicate balance between fate and love, presenting multifaceted characters navigating intricate relationships. “Fingernails” wisely avoids sensationalism, opting for a nuanced portrayal of love and desire. The film’s body horror elements, involving the fingernail test, are tastefully handled, leaving much to the imagination and emphasizing the emotional impact rather than shock value.
In conclusion, “Fingernails” offers a haunting and introspective journey into the depths of love, lust, and longing. While it may leave some yearning for a more expansive exploration of its intriguing premise, the film’s quiet soulfulness and the compelling performances of its cast create a profound cinematic experience. “Fingernails” opens in limited release and on Apple TV+ on November 3rd, inviting audiences to contemplate the intricacies of human connection in a world where love is both a scientific measurement and a deeply personal experience.