peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2023 11 04 Fingernails

Fingernails (2023)

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More proof I'll watch Riz Ahmed attempt anything. Another Apple Original production. It put me in mind of their other big misfire that I saw: Swan Song. They seem to aim to churn out sanitised, carefully engineering pap that avoids even the possibility of smudging the brand, and they have yet to figure out how to bottle whatever it was that made CODA Oscar worthy.

Notionally a scifi but the premise is so lame, the setting so quotidian, the exposition so condescending that it's more like a documentary on the neuroticism of the age: the need to be externally validated as a normie, the desire for certainty, accurate predictions without doing the hard yards of building a theory or knowing your own mind, the projection of an acceptable present forevermore with a dash of brand new you're retro incarnated in a wall of books, albums, 1980s power ballads, appendix removal scars and pixels you can actually see. (Sorta like The Simpsons, stuck in the present indefinite.) What do we learn from a test that is supposed to show that two people are in love? It's something like Perfect Match, arse backwards, that reality TV rendered entirely obsolete. This is not Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I haven't seen Jessie Buckley before. She's in some kind of low-trust relationship (or is it low understanding?) and has an easy and apparently readily forgivable manner of lying. We know she's in trouble when she meets Ahmed, especially when they sit through a "no one understands love more than Hugh Grant" movie marathon in a cinema (!). (The failings listed above, this pining for the big screen on a streaming platform, the Caribou documentary and Luke Wilson ... I couldn't tell if I was watching a parody, a satire, a comedy — but trust me it is sincerely humourless throughout. And everyone knows Grant does a mean and greasy bad guy.)

What's perhaps the strangest thing here is the lack of sex or sexiness. Just love thanks, says Apple, we'll be shipping out the next generation of consumers via iStork. There's an unsexy shower scene. The claim by one testee that she'd been bonking her best man every night for a week for at least an hour put me in mind of Praise.

Jeannette Catsoulis saw a lot more here than I did and made it a critic's pick.