Love Really Hurts in the Trippy, Melancholy Fingernails

August 16, 2023

At the 2020 Venice Film Festival, a standout film caught the attention of none other than Cate Blanchett. The acclaimed Oscar winner, who was presiding over the Main Competition's jury that year, was captivated by "Apples," a cleverly surreal exploration of grief crafted by debut Greek filmmaker Christos Nikou. In an almost unbelievable twist of fate, Nikou reminisces, "Just before the film's premiere, I received a message saying, 'Cate wants to have breakfast with you.'" He chuckles as he recalls the surreal moment. Cate Blanchett decided to come aboard "Apples" as an executive producer through her Dirty Films production banner. Not only did she take charge of its release campaign, but she also extended an offer to collaborate on his next cinematic venture. Luckily, he already had a concept in mind.

This marks the inception of "Fingernails," Nikou's latest creation, which boasts an impressive lineage. Alongside her Dirty Films co-conspirators—her husband Andrew Upton and Emmy-nominated Coco Francini—Blanchett played a pivotal role as a producer. The movie is set to make a splash with its grand autumn debut, facilitated by Apple, and the upcoming month promises multiple prestigious festival appearances. (Mark your calendars: "Fingernails" will grace both theaters and Apple TV+ screens starting November 3.) And let's not overlook the ensemble cast: the charismatic trio of Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed, and Jeremy Allen White—renowned actors in high demand—are helming the lead roles, with the supporting cast featuring scene-stealers like Luke Wilson and Annie Murphy. It's anything but conventional for a burgeoning European director making his English debut. Yet, incredible opportunities can arise when you capture the gaze of an industry luminary.

Certainly, Nikou's pitch was buoyed by an intriguing premise that lured an all-star team of collaborators. Mirroring the spirit of "Apples," "Fingernails" dives into substantial concepts, embracing them with an open heart and a delightfully askew sense of humor, all seen through an inventive lens. The narrative unfolds in an alternate world where a machine has been devised to accurately ascertain whether a couple is truly in love—how? By analyzing the composition of a person's detached fingernail, willingly offered. Prior to undergoing the test, counselors at the institute where the contraption was conceived guide couples through exercises designed to deepen their connection and prepare them for a pivotal moment in their relationship. The ultimate aim? To achieve that perfect "match."

Read the whole article on Vanity Fair.