Ben Oliver

Now
Banner image for Fingernails
film

Fingernails

I founded this institute in order to take the risk out of love.
08 February 2024

A test has been developed to determine whether or not you are truly in love. You remove a fingernail from each partner, put it in a machine and it gives you an answer. Anna (Jessie Buckley) has proven that she is in love, but doesn’t feel sure about it. When she gets a job at a love testing facility, she meets a man (Riz Ahmed) who makes her question her feelings even more.

This plays out like a sort of discount version of The Lobster. The cast and performances are sound - it’s hard not to like Jessie Buckley and Riz Ahmed but the screenplay makes their romance a little tepid. The concept is partly “we shouldn’t let computers tell us what we think” and Fingernails doesn’t really go to any effort to surprise you, or even explore its own theme in much depth.

The idea that people buy into something because it’s been given legitimacy by an algorithm or a certificate does resonate, especially when it flies completely against what they know to be true.

That’s pretty much all that stands out though, and in fact by the end they are pulling nails out so easily that it loses all meaning and power. Surely it’s about making a great personal sacrifice to get your pithy yes or no answer? It should be hard to watch when the nails are coming out but eventually it gets glossed over.

There’s a gentle humour to it all that I liked, as well as the chemistry between the two leads, but this really needed to play it less safe in every regard.