Jessie Buckley and Riz Ahmed work at an institute where they help couples increase their chances of passing the love test.
Fingernails makes us consider what the world would be like if there was a definitive test to prove that couples are truly in love.
In this sci-fi romance, director Christos Nikou’s English-language debut, couples undergo the test – which requires the removal of a fingernail – to confirm that they’re the perfect match.
Everyone takes the results as gospel, so if the test declares that the couple is not compatible then that’s the end of that romance.
Some people are understandably hesitant about taking it – first of all, the procedure is extreme and painful, and secondly, they don’t want to risk ruining a relationship they’re happy in.
The story is told through the eyes of Anna (Jessie Buckley), who feels restless in her long-term relationship with Ryan (Jeremy Allen White).
She joins the Love Institute, which runs the test, and works alongside Amir (Riz Ahmed). They host training programmes to help pre-test couples boost their chances of passing the test.
The dark, Black Mirror-style concept and the dystopian world-building instantly draws us in because we’re naturally curious about how the belief system works.
There are many routes this idea could have taken and it unfortunately doesn’t take the most interesting one.
Eventually, in the second half, the novelty of the new world wears off and the idea runs out of steam. The stakes are higher and we see more brutal fingernail-pulling scenes but the characters make questionable choices that a lot of people won’t agree with.
As the first half was so strong, the ending was a disappointment because it felt like Nikou ran out of ideas and didn’t know how to wrap up his story.
He just stops, leaving us wondering about the ramifications of certain choices. Hardly a satisfying way to bow out.
Fingernails boasts solid, committed performances from Buckley, Ahmed and White and a thought-provoking concept but the story loses its momentum and never really recovers.
In selected cinemas and Apple TV+ from Friday 3rd November.
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