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‘Fingernails’ is a Failed Attempt at an Honest Love Story

‘Fingernails’ explores a futurist world of love testing in a largely purposeless and uncompelling way.
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(Image courtesy of ‘Fingernails’ trailer, AppleTV+)

 

In some alternate universe, modern technology has devised a test to prove whether two people are in love with each other. To run this test, both members of a couple must sacrifice a fingernail. This fingernail is pulled and then placed in a machine that determines if both, neither or only one of the people in a relationship are in love.

“The earliest signs of heart problems are often found in the spotting, bending, or discoloration of fingernails,” reads the quote opening the movie, “Fingernails,” alluding to how this test is even possible.

Directed by Christos Nikou and released to AppleTV+ on Nov 3, “Fingernails” explores the idea of love in a world where it can be proven.

We learn about this world by following Anna, a former school teacher turned love test instructor played by Jessie Buckley. Anna passed the love test with her partner Ryan, a dull and unadventurous man played by “The Bear” star Jeremy Allen White.

Despite passing the test, boredom and routine in her relationship leads Anna to question how much fulfillment she feels with Ryan. These doubts are exacerbated when she starts her new job at The Love Institute. The institute is a love testing facility that also runs workshops to strengthen the bond between couples. Here, Anna meets Amir, played by Riz Ahmed.

Thus ensues a classic love triangle dilemma. Anna finds herself increasingly attracted to Amir while plagued by the knowledge that she and Ryan passed their love test.

“Fingernails” attempts to explore what love really means in a world where all the risks and imperfections of love are eliminated. Yet, slow, confusing storytelling and distant characters muddy the potential of the movie’s otherwise interesting concept.

A Slow Story

“Fingernails” explores a futurist world of love testing in a largely purposeless and uncompelling way.

Theoretically, this movie aims to explore relationships, their evolution, or lack thereof, their purpose and their susceptibility to external opinion. The intrigue of this examination however quickly fades as the story drags. Events happen with little purpose behind them. 

Half of the movie is spent watching Anna and Amir conduct ridiculous workshops for couples which end up feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Most of these scenes in the grand scheme of the story are frustratingly insignificant. 

Sure, we watch Anna attempt, and fail, to persuade Ryan to participate in these sort of relationship-strengthening activities with her. It’s in these conversations that we see Ryan become complacent despite Anna’s desire to create growth and excitement in their relationship. 

However, when the greater part of the movie is spent watching Anna and Amir watch other couples work to build their bond, the viewer’s commitment to the development of the main characters quickly dissipates into boredom. Conversations start to drag and scenes start to feel monotonous. Any curiosity bred in the beginning parts of the movie fades to indifference. 

And Cold Characters 

What’s worse, the characters in the story lack any real depth or chemistry. 

Buckley’s character feels distant and cold despite efforts to create empathy for the unhappiness she’s fallen victim to in her relationship. From refusing to engage in what could be constructive conversations with Ryan to ending the movie by disregarding her commitment to Ryan and spending the night with Amir, Anna quickly becomes unlikable. 

Despite Ahmed’s persuasive acting, which builds the only likable character in this film, every scene between Anna and Amir lacks any real chemistry. Instead, it only feels awkward and forced. 

By the time the credits finally roll, not one character has developed from the people we met at the movie’s beginning. They all remain stagnant, aside from maybe mustering the courage to acknowledge the emotions they’re feeling once or twice. They drift through tired cliches and end in an unsatisfactory mess. 

“Fingernails” could have been another regular, but interesting look at the meaning of love. Instead, every point the movie makes falls flat when it’s surrounded by unremarkable characters and events. 

 

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@JosiHinds

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About the Contributor
Josi Hinds, Arts Writer
Josi Hinds is in her second year at the University of Utah, majoring in communications with a minor in both gender studies and Spanish (for now). She grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and moved to Salt Lake in hopes of venturing out in the world and meeting new people. She joined the Chronicle out of a love for writing and meeting new people, and she hopes to share stories that broaden both her and others' perspective on the world

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