‘Fingernails’ Review: Jessie Buckley Questions Love in a Muddled Dystopian Comedy About the Science of Romance

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Unveiling the Truth of Love in Christos Nikou’s “Fingernails”: An Unromantic Awakening

Love is easy, but staying in love takes work. The romantic comedy genre often fails to address this truth, but “Fingernails” shatters the illusions. While movies like “Love, Actually” captivate with grand gestures, they leave out the realities of long-term relationships. This film dares to explore what happens after the credits roll, when the initial spark fades, and everyday challenges come into play.

In a slightly retro-futuristic world, “Fingernails” introduces a scientific test to determine true love. The consequences are significant, leading couples to break up if they fail or become complacent if they pass. It’s like marriage but with external validation. The divorce rate may have dropped, but happiness followed suit.

Meet Anna, our protagonist, an unemployed woman who embodies the struggle. Singing along to heart-wrenching songs on the radio, she represents those who have failed the love test. Jessie Buckley’s performance draws us in, belting “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with raw emotion.

While the cast, including Jeremy Allen White and Riz Ahmed, deliver solid performances, Nikou’s film struggles to evoke genuine passion. The premise of this stone-faced comedy, exploring complex emotions within rigid social structures, shows promise. The Institute, where couples undergo love test training, provides comedic moments. From sniff tests to skydiving exercises, Nikou injects absurdity to expose the test’s limitations. However, the script truly shines when it fearlessly pushes boundaries. Anna’s attempt to create a Pavlovian response to her partner’s absence by shocking herself adds a touch of dark humor.

Yet, “Fingernails” struggles to escape the shadow of similar films like Yorgos Lanthimos’ works. Nikou finds himself torn between the comfort of familiarity and the allure of innovation. This internal struggle reflects in the film’s identity, preventing it from establishing a strong footing.

In this English-language exploration of love, “Fingernails” challenges genre conventions. It forces us to confront the realities of maintaining a relationship in a transformed world. This thought-provoking film raises important questions about the nature of love and the complexities of human connection.

Discover the limitations of dating apps and the complexities of relationships in “Fingernails,” where two people sacrifice each fingernail to determine compatibility. But does this test truly reflect modern romance or misunderstand what truly matters? Join the conversation and delve into the highs and lows of monogamy.

Starring Buckley, White, and Ahmed, “Fingernails” immerses you in a world that blurs melodrama and monotone reality. Can the safety love provides also be its downfall?

Dive into “Fingernails” as it examines the initial attraction versus the perseverance required for a relationship to thrive. This thought-provoking film has the potential to ignite meaningful discussions about our emotions and choices in love.

Explore the fate of love in “Fingernails,” a captivating film that challenges our understanding of relationships. Catch it in select theaters on October 27, with streaming available on Apple TV+ from November 3. Don’t miss the opportunity to delve into the complexities of modern romance.

Grade: C

“Fingernails” debuted at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.


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