Fingernails is yet another compelling offering from Apple TV Plus. The streamer keeps churning out quality content through its platform and production at a baffling rate. With its foot firmly in the realm of science fiction, Fingernails is heavily drama-centric, raising existential and thoughtful questions about the meaning and mechanics of love.
The plot of Fingernails focuses on a Test Center that uses an algorithm to match its aspirants with one another. The higher the score, the more compatible the partners are. In the film’s scheme, the algo’s dictum is taken to be the final word with no real deviations. It is a delightful satirical choice to confront modern technologies like AI that threaten to write our fates in the future.
The ending of Fingernails heroically challenges the veracity of the computer to pair up people with each other and determine their love quotient. It is an intense and breathtaking culmination of a journey of doubt, gaudy epiphanies, and redemption.
Fingernails (2023) Plot Analysis
Fingernails revolve around the discovery of a revolutionary machine that can detect if couples are in love or not. Zero means neither is in love, 50% means only one person is in love, and 100% means both are in love. After the machine came into existence, almost 87% of couples couldn’t pass its scrutiny. A divorce epidemic soon followed and brought immense misery to the world. Anna and Ryan are the central pair who have previously taken the test three years ago. The reading was comprehensively positive, but the reality seems starkly different.
The weight of the relationship is clear on Ryan and Anna’s faces. Their disposition is faint in each other’s companionship, and there’s hardly a spark. Although Ryan seems content with their arrangement, Anna is more enterprising and willing to test the order. She gets lucky with a job at the Love Training Institute, which rejuvenates intimacy between couples. Anna starts leading a dual life where she is constantly challenging the norms of the machine’s unassailable test and, at the same time, rewriting the code to expose deviances in the system.
What brings Anna closer to her own conclusions about the test?
Anna applies many tricks she learns at the institute to her relationship with Ryan. Although he seems distant as is, he hardly responds to the tests. The activities that are supposed to showcase intimacy end up clearing the truth to her. Ryan’s disinterest turns into anger when he learns the truth about Anna’s job. She had lied to him about working at an elementary school while she was going to the Institute. The couple engage in a heated argument, but Ryan’s surprise effort to listen and process his partner’s explanation bodes well.
They soon make up with each other as Anna invites him to an office party at work. Little do they know that this will change the complexion of their relationship with frightening and irreversible permanence. The reason? Amir, the quaint co-worker of Anna whom she met during her stint at the Institute.
What puzzles Anna after her test against Amir’s fingernail?
It is quite evident now that the two share a wholesome chemistry. They stare at each other throughout their dance with different partners, who still remain oblivious to the unfolding drama. It is evidence enough in and of itself that the machine does not work. Because what Duncan says to Anna makes no sense in all our human experiences… Or perhaps it does.
When Anna tests Amir’s fingernail against her own sample, she finds that the test score is only 50%, which means that only one person is in love; in translation, Amir doesn’t feel the same way about Anna. Duncan, Anna’s boss, has enough experience to be right about these things. But the extent of his experiences is certainly limited.
He outright rejects the idea that a person can be in love with two people. It is a biological impossibility that cannot be negated by years of movies and television shows telling us otherwise. Anna is confused and doesn’t know what to do next. The surest way of knowing is to take the test again with Ryan. When she brings it up with him, Ryan gets defensive and asks for clarification about her feelings for him. It is a complex and delicate situation that demands honesty – not just about each other but also themselves.
What does Amir reveal to Anna about his past?
But they deal with it maturely, and Ryan eventually agrees to retake the test. Surely, the machine cannot be wrong twice, right? Well, to Anna’s dismay, the inevitable happens, and the machine returns a 100% match once again for them. Anna is heartbroken. She is confused about her own feelings toward the two men in her life, which has been spurred on after the test.
After no longer being able to hold it in, Anna confesses all her turmoil to Amir in a scintillating monologue. And then Amir finally reveals the truth: the machine isn’t wrong on this occasion. Only one of them is in love with the other, and that person isn’t Anna. Amir is in love with her, but not she… something Amir knows from experience. He reveals that he has tested many samples in the past but never got a positive return until his test with Anna. Amir also reveals that his relationship with Natasha is hollow.
He conceived it as a disguise to get a job at the Institute and figure out what was wrong with him since he never tested positive for love before. Fingernails ends in a triumph as Anna decides to leave Ryan despite their perfect score and decides to be with Amir.
What the ending of Fingernails really means:
Fingernails is a challenging watch due to its confronting nature and how poetically it is always in conflict with itself. The blurry line between truth and lies is never quite determined to provide clarity, something that mirrors the central message of the film: love cannot be bound. It is not a science measurable by a metric. The universe might not have the true measure of love at all, just as people don’t have the measure of others. There are no clear ways of diagnosing if two people are ever in love… they can be out of it and now know the reality. Love is fleeting and meant to be enjoyed while it lasts.
It is deceitful and delightful. As frustrating as its inherent nature is, love can also be a beautiful thing, as Anna and Amir discover. Love beguiles permanence in a shatteringly temporary manner that can build you up or destroy you like no other poison in the world. It is not inescapable and controllable. In fact, it is one of the only things like destiny that you can’t control, but it can control you.
This interpretation is problematic in many ways that Fingernails doesn’t consider. The premise is that love is viewed independently of other human virtues like loyalty, obligation, and the order of marriage. That’s why the makers of Fingernails have arrived at such a one-dimensional and restrained take on what it takes to fall in love. The reality of Fingernails, where love has been medicalized like a disease, is dubious.
The purpose of the love test is to help people avoid the pain of divorce, but the result is couples who take the test results for granted leading to mundane relationships, contrasted by couples putting in hard work due to their desire for each other, ironically dissuaded by the fingernail test results despite the clear evidence of their affection shown through their effort. That is a polemic representation of how ineffective technology can be… and how unchallenged its veracity can linger on for so long until it is disproven to the detriment of those who made it.
Also, Read: A Haunting in Venice (2023) Ending Explained