Cate Blanchett spoke to Toronto Star with director Christos Nikou about the new film Fingernails. Cate is a producer on the film through her production company, Dirty Films. The film starring Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed, and Jeremy Allen White is available to stream on Apple TV+ worldwide.
Christos, were you feeling hopeful about love or were you in a darker place about compatibility issues when you wrote this film?
Both! I’m always optimistic and hopeful for love, and I’m trying to be romantic, but at the same time I’m seeing how the world has changed and how people are not experiencing love right now. All these people, especially young kids, and how they … swipe right or left to find the perfect match on a dating app. They’re letting an algorithm and AI decide about them. Love goes so much through screens (now) and not through eyes, when love should go only through eyes.
Cate, why did you want to make this film?
It happened very organically from a conversation during the lockdown between Christos and myself at the Venice Film Festival. It was an idea Christos had and something that I’ve been thinking of: who and what would you risk everything for? I do think you’re deeply romantic, Christos, and it’s not something that we celebrate much anymore, that romance, because it seems soppy and wet rather than being an act of brutal courage in the face of every street sign that’s telling us to walk in the opposite direction to romance.
Why is sci-fi such a clever and deep way to explore the vagaries and the difficulties and joys of love?
Blanchett: Would you call it sci-fi, Christos?
Nikou: It’s not a sci-fi, yes.
Blanchett: It’s so possible. To what Christos was saying before, I feel like we’re right there. People have called it dystopian, which somehow makes it feel derivative or disingenuous. It feels like there’s a genuine exploration inside here about compatibility. Is it an act of will or is it some mystical, romantic concept? I didn’t ever think about it being futuristic.
Nikou: For me, it’s an allegory about life. And for me, “Notting Hill” is more a science fiction than this film. Because when I was 14, I said to my mother, “Mama, I found the meaning of life. I will open a bookstore and the biggest Hollywood star will try to beg me to fall in love with her.”
Blanchett: And that didn’t work out for you, Christos?
Nikou: No, I didn’t do it. I need to be a director. And I’m still waiting for the biggest Hollywood star to come and fall in love!
“Fingernails” features three of the most in-demand actors right now. How did you know that the trio of actors at the heart of this story could bring this love story to life?
Blanchett: It was one of those things where, as clear and as unique as Christos’ vision was, we knew it would live and die on the chemistry between the actors. And I think they’re profoundly open and idiosyncratic and generous. It’s also really important that you invest in both of the relationships. Because it’s not overvaluing the romantic or the reckless with the pragmatic. There’s elements of both in both those relationships. It’s a portrait of the breadth of love.
The film explores the mundanity and challenge of everyday long-term partnership. Why was this meaningful to you?
Nikou: For me, love is not something that you have to prove, even with a ring to your finger; love is something that you need to work every day. What do you think, Cate, about love?
Blanchett: Look, it’s a crazy ride, that is for sure. I’ve been with the same partner for — Christos, I think it’s 27 years.
Nikou: Twenty-seven? No!
Blanchett: Are you even that old, Christos? I mean, it’s a long time! And some of the “Fingernails” scenes, I really was ambushed by. It’s really interesting watching these same (Love Institut) interview processes and exercises being played over with different couples. And so, I think, strangely, you fall into the rabbit hole of the film. While you’re watching it, you’re saying, Would I do that? Would I know that? There’s something really beguiling, and there’s something about it being really heartfelt and genuine about it. It feels, yeah, maybe more real than “Notting Hill.” Love is a crazy ride.
Source: Toronto Star