The Very Best
Romantic dystopia featuring Jessie Buckley should be a genre of its own.
In what is only his second feature, Greek director Christos Nikou crafts a singular universe that is orderly and enticing. The dystopian premise that you can now scientifically test for love may be bizarre, but it answers to one of the biggest anxieties humans share. That said, this particular world feels so close to ours today, that you want to dive right in it, weirdness and all. Even the topos of the love clinic, where couples get evaluated and take on exercises before they take the test is framed as a space for hope. There's no underlying cynicism in Nikou's film, which is perhaps the most surprising fact about it; on the contrary, longing—however painful it may be—abounds and seeps through the carefully composed images of shared doubt and suspect intimacy. Last, but not least, the chemistry shared by Buckley-Ahmed-White is nothing short of explosive.
Fingernails is only Christos Nikou's second feature, but it surely is one of the best English-language debut of recent years. The premise—scientifically determining whether a couple's romance is genuine—reads simple enough, but the film operates on many levels of conceptual complexity. On the one hand, there is the notion that since love is quantifiable, knowing whether you’re a good match allows you to love more and, more importantly, better. That is, there is an ethical stake here. On the other hand, the strive for objectivity can condemn what little is left of one's free will. If love is indeed the highest manifestation of such freedom (since it cannot be forced by any means), it becomes both a blessing and a curse. Holding these contradictions is probably what makes Fingernails so achingly real, dystopia aside.