Once upon a time, there was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and now, it has a successor that has managed to trump it. Fingernails is a superior movie in every sense, and we will admit that it answers questions about love through the very act of simplifying them, which makes us realize that we have probably not understood the emotion as much as we have chased it. This is an absolutely beautiful movie, and here is the summary and ending of it.
What is the technology in the film?
We are not sure why the word ‘dystopian’ has been used to describe Fingernails. Many would consider that technology has solved romance once and for all, and why would that be equated to suffering? Only Anna could answer that, but the technology itself was about determining whether two people were in love or not. The fingernails of the people were taken out and placed in the machine, which would then tell them how much they were in love. If the result was 0%, neither had strong feelings for the other. If the result was 50%, only one person in the couple was said to be in love, though the machine couldn’t determine who that was. The third result was 100%, and that meant that the couple was meant to be together since both their feelings were equally strong. People could choose to go through certain exercises together to increase feelings of love and intimacy, which would encourage a positive result. But these exercises were optional and simply a way to enhance existing feelings instead of creating new ones.
Why does Anna work at the Love Institute?
Anna took the test with her boyfriend, Ryan, three years ago, and their result was entirely positive. Since then, the two have lived together and have been a successful couple. Their friends are also doing well for themselves, but they have not taken the test so far. The boyfriend of that couple prefers to go by instinct rather than a scientific analysis, but the girlfriend wants to be sure. They take the test ultimately, and the result is positive for them, though for a second, we wonder what their feelings would have meant if the test had said otherwise. This second couple is a way for us to consider the effect of doubt and uncertainty in a relationship. Contrary to them, Anna and Ryan already have their answers, which is why Anna is finding it so hard to vocalize her doubts. She has been with Ryan for a long time, and he genuinely cares about her. They do all the things that are supposed to strengthen relationships, like ask each other about their day, be interested in their lives and jobs, and spend a lot of time together while making the others’ hobbies and interests a part of their own lives. Yet Anna feels a disconnect with Ryan. It is extremely evident that she is not in love with him, but she doesn’t know why that is so when science is telling her otherwise. Anna tells Ryan that she has landed a job as a kindergarten teacher but instead, goes to work at the Love Institute. Perhaps all Anna wants is to understand the process of love and how science is able to measure it, so that she may better understand her own relationship.
Is Anna in love with both Amir and Ryan?
Right from the beginning, Anna feels an inexplicable pull towards Amir, who is the co-founder of the institute, along with Duncan. He is a silent man and has designed most of the tests in the institution, and Anna is observing them alongside him while giving her own input. It is here that we see that Anna is a sensitive individual who is easily affected by the relationships between the clients she works for. She suggests some exercises for them to increase their intimacy, and while Amir is initially impressed, he pulls himself back when she reveals that she got that idea from her partner, since she does the same thing with him. After some time passes, Anna tells Ryan the truth about where she is working, and though he is shocked at her lie, he doesn’t oppose her job. He had probably suspected until then that Anna was unhappy, but this is the first concrete proof he has of it. At the party, Anna figures out that the woman who Amir is saying is his girlfriend is just a paid actress, since she knows nothing about him. But Anna doesn’t confront him about it.
Anna had tested a fingernail of Amir with one of her own, and the result was 50%. The fact that Anna wanted to do the test meant that she suspected her feelings. But that is making her unsure of what she has with Ryan. She asks him to do the test again, and he agrees when he sees that it is very important for Anna. The result comes out as 100%, and it is clear that Anna is upset by that. Had it been 50%, she would have definitely jumped to the conclusion that she wasn’t in love with Ryan anymore, but that would have meant that she was one-sidedly in love with Amir. However, the result being 100% means that she is still in love with Ryan, so that leaves her confused about Amir. Anna tells Amir about the test the next day, and she says that the 50% probably means that he is in love with her, since the machine and the science behind it say that it is impossible for a person to be in love with two people at the same time. Also, let us not forget that the result of the test with Ryan disappointed Anna.
Why does Anna pull out her fingernails?
After Anna tells Amir about the test, he doesn’t come to work for a few days, and Anna starts missing him. Things were unresolved between them, and while the machine may be saying something else, Anna knows what she is feeling. It is that thing where sometimes you just know what you feel, not because it meets a certain set of criteria, because there is an explanation for it, or even because you have felt it before. The knowledge of it automatically springs up, and machine or not, Anna knows that she is in love with Amir.
After coming back from somewhere with Ryan, she goes out to meet Amir. At this point, Ryan says that ‘he is tired,’ and we believe that he knows where Anna is going, but he is done fighting. He has done everything he can, and if that wasn’t enough, then it was time for him to let it go.
Anna rushes over to Amir’s house and tells him that she had figured out long ago that he was single. Amir tells Anna that he had never tested positive with anyone, and he desperately wanted his person, which is why he had adopted the stoic demeanor that he currently carries. Anna and Amir don’t need to say it, but they are in love, and it is very clear to both of them. It is a surprise that others couldn’t pick on it before. We don’t know why the machine did not pick it up. Biology was never our strong suit, but perhaps the machine confused comfort with love? Ryan loved Anna and did everything for her, but Anna also gave her best to the relationship, despite her heart not being in it. That could not have been possible without the level of shared comfort that the couple had built over three years, and that is what the machine had decided was love. As for Anna and Amir, they had love between them, but there was so much they did not know about each other. Additionally, there was simply too much uncertainty for the comfort of a relationship, which is why their love levels were only shown to be 50%. Or it could be that the machine was never a good enough device to measure something so inexplicable. These are the questions that must have been running through Anna’s head, and she decided that enough was enough.
During Fingernails‘ ending, Anna finally got convinced that the heart wants what it wants and would not listen to a machine that is deemed to know better. That is the reason she pulled out her fingernails, because she was done with the tests and wanted to follow her heart instead of some inane test results. Amir stops her, and we have no idea whether their relationship works out or not. But Anna wants to navigate it with her brain and feelings, not a machine. Most likely, she will break up with Ryan. Anna doesn’t love him anymore, and there is no doubt about that. She has strong feelings for Amir, and only time will tell her whether they last or if it was something that simply wasn’t meant to be.
We love this movie so much, and we simply cannot get enough of it. It makes us wonder what could have been if Fingernails had developed as a series. All the unsaid questions and answers would have been presented in actual dialogue, and that would have possibly made for one of the best commentaries on love in recent times. We truly hope someone picks up the idea.