Friday, November 03, 2023

Fingernails, on Apple TV+

If you broke up with someone because “science” told you to, you’d deserve to be unhappy—and people would. In fact, that happens all the time in this near-near-future world. Supposedly, science can conclusively determine whether you and your mate are truly in love. You just need to give up a good part of a fingernail for the testing process. The nails will grow back, but the broken hearts are another story. Anna and Ryan are two of the lucky ones. At least they were until she starts working with Amir at a love institute that coaches couples to strengthen their “love bond.” The film stacks the deck in favor of Amir and against Ryan, but apparently it won’t matter if the latter still has science on his side in Christos Nikou’s Fingernails, which premieres today on Apple TV+.

There only three possible tests results: 0%, 100%, and the dreaded 50%, meaning one and one is not. As a new hire, Anna will shadow Amir as he guides couples through love-building exercises before they take the test. Honestly, just being willing to do their silly activities ought to be sufficient proof of love, but then they wouldn’t have these ridiculous jobs. As it happens, Anna has not yet leveled with Ryan about her new job. Instead, she lied, claiming she landed another gig teaching rug rats. Obviously, we can tell she feels insecure about the strength of their relationship, despite the test result they have vouching for it.

is a bit like Jac Schaeffer’s TiMER, which allows annoying Millennials to blame science for their own inability to develop personal relationships. Maybe they should stop protesting on behalf of terrorists and go out on a few dates instead. Just an idea. Regardless, it seems ludicrous that everyone would put so much stock in this fingernail test, when it so obviously breaks up perfectly happy couples. That includes Duncan, the clinic director, nicely played with quiet sadness by Luke Wilson.

The listless pace of
Fingernails is also pretty sad. This is a hard film to slog through that should have had half an hour pared out of its front-end. Every step is transparently telegraphed, despite the aching earnestness of the cast. Jessie Buckley and Riz Ahmed make it painfully clear how deeply Anna and Amir feel each and every moment together. In contrast, Jeremy Allen White’s Ryan is so self-centered, nebbishly awkward, socially unskilled, and devoid of basic empathic rapport, it makes it impossible to buy into the film’s romantic triangle. On the evidence presented in Fingernails, I am fully prepared to declare the titular test is utter junk science.

The film is built on an intriguing concept, but the execution is flawed and lethargic. As a result, it fails to fully exploit the possibilities of its premise. Not recommended,
Fingernails starts streaming today (11/3) on Apple TV+.