Fingernails: Austin Film Festival Review

October 8, 202360/1005 min
Jeremy Allen White, Jessie Buckley, Annie Murphy, Rim Ahmed
Written by
Christos Nikou, Stevros Raptis, and Sam Steiner
Directed by
Christos Nikou
Run Time
1h 53min
Release Date
November 3rd, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

            Regardless of your gender, when it comes to being in a relationship, we are always looking for ways to assure ourselves that we are with the right person. You do that before you start dating by giving a checklist on dating apps for what you are looking for, but there is no surefire way to know if someone is right for you or not. The new film from director Christos Nikou, Fingernails,tackles that very question: finding a way to know if you are right for each other. The answer, it seems, is in the fingernails, and by a method, you can find out if you are in love with someone or not.

Anna (Jessie Buckley) is looking for a new job after leaving a teaching position at a school. In her job search, she applies at the Love Institute, a place that, with some training and a process, can help couples determine if they are right for each other. Anna and her partner, Ryan (Jeremy Allen White), have taken that test, and they were positive, meaning they are right for each other. Even so, as Anna takes the job, she tells Ryan she is teaching at an elementary school, keeping the truth from him for some reason. Anna jumps right into her new job with passion and is teamed up with Amir (Riz Ahmed) by the person who runs the institute, a guy named Duncan (Luke Wilson). Things are going well, and Anna has taken a real interest in some of her couples, but also in Amir as well, so much so she starts to question her results with Ryan.

Written by Stevros Raptis, Sam Steiner, and Christos Nikou, they deliver a thought-provoking story with a central concept that is quite captivating. The writers here understand that falling in love with someone isn’t the result of some grand gesture, and a central part of most of the characters is where they met. Fingernails shows it’s the small gestures are what make us fall in love with someone, and there are moments in this movie that will make the romantic in you swoon. For me, Fingernails evokes feelings of both The Lobster and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with its satirical approach to love. If you are a fan of either of those movies, you will easily fall under the charm of this film.

You have plenty of romantic movies to choose from out there, but Christos Nikou has delivered a fresh story that actually uses clichés to its advantage. With that said, Fingernails does suffer from some predictable outcomes, especially early on, and I would say the film drops the ball a little on what could have been a more meaningful ending. Nevertheless, this doesn’t lessen the viewing experience of Fingernails too much, as the idea alone is worth the watch. When you add the fantastic chemistry between Buckley and Ahmed, you get a pretty good study of the complexities of love.

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