Fingernails Parent Guide
This isn't a warm and cuddly romance movie. It's painful and it will make viewers think.
Parent Movie Review
What makes love last?
Duncan (Luke Wilson) believes he has the answer – a rather gruesome scientific test that cuts through the fog of attraction to determine long-term compatibility. The test is hugely popular and people make life decisions based on it – initiating divorces or ending dating relationships. A 100% positive test indicates that both partners are truly in love and is a coveted assurance of lifelong affection.
Anna (Jessie Buckley) and Ryan (Jeremy Allen White) have had a positive test and live with a sense of security that has faded into complacency. Ryan is comfortable in their safe relationship but Anna feels an unspoken restlessness. She’s looking for another school teaching job, and is delighted when she instead gets hired at The Love Institute, Duncan’s organization. Anna hopes that working there will teach her ways to revitalize her relationship with Ryan. She hasn’t counted on a handsome co-worker, Amir (Riz Ahmed), who soon has her questioning everything she thinks she knows about love and guarantees.
Giving credit where credit is due, I must admit that Fingernails is the rarest of things – an original romantic drama. This isn’t a standard love story with cute montages, firelit embraces, and witty banter. No, this is a tale that asks messy questions about the durability of love, the origins of love, and the price people are willing to pay to make it last. There are plenty of sorrowful partings when couples are told they have negative test results and end promising relationships. Even Anna finds herself in a situation where her only options come with pain – and she makes a shocking and unexpected choice. Fingernails isn’t a cuddle-up-on-the-couch-and-eat-carbs kind of movie. Instead of filling you with endorphins, this will stress you out and make you examine your own assumptions.
The best part of the production is definitely Jessie Buckley, who gives us an Anna who is earnest, determined, and full of questions. (The DIY haircut, however, has got to go.) She’s well matched by Riz Ahmed whose intense eyes truly are a window to his character’s emotions. The script doesn’t always live up to its characters and some of Anna and Ryan’s dialogue feels like it was written by a committee instead of springing organically from the characters.
Another weak spot in the film is the negative content. Fingernails earned a Restricted rating for its profanity, which includes eleven completely unnecessary sexual expletives. There are also scenes of social drinking, a carefully shot scene of a man and woman showering together, and some implied sex. The real issue in this movie is the violence, which I can’t describe in detail without spoiling the plot. (If you want more information, check out the content information below.)
Overall, Fingernails is an intriguing, often unsettling movie about the unknowable impulses of the human heart. The plot’s theme seems to be that “the heart wants what it wants”. Whether or not yours wants to watch this movie is up to you.
Directed by Christos Nikou. Starring Jessie Buckley, Jeremy Allen White, Riz Ahmed. Running time: 113 minutes. Theatrical release November 3, 2023. Updated November 3, 2023
Watch the trailer for Fingernails
Rating & Content Info
Why is Fingernails rated R? Fingernails is rated R by the MPAA for language.
Violence: Spoiler Warning: People have their fingernails removed as part of a “scientific” test. People remove their own fingernails. Some blood is seen and people scream with pain. The fingernail removal is described as a form of torture. A woman gives herself an electric shock as part of a relationship exercise. A person wants to set a simulated fire in a theater but is not permitted to do so.
Sexual Content: Men and women kiss. A woman kisses a man who is not her partner: sex is implied but not seen. There is an extended scene of men and women standing around in their underwear while a blindfolded character sniffs at them to find his partner. A man and woman shower together: only their shoulders and backs are visible. An adults buttocks are briefly seen in a non-sexual context.
Profanity: The script contains approximately eleven sexual expletives, eight terms of deity, and three scatological curses.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink alcohol at parties. A minor character drinks alcohol straight from the bottle.
Page last updated November 3, 2023
Fingernails Parents' Guide
If there were a way to determine the long-term staying power of a relationship, would you take it? Why or why not?
Why do you think Anna makes the choice she does at the end of the movie? Do you agree with her?