Starring Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed, and Jeremy Allen White, Greek director Christos Nikou’s English-language debut weaves an allegory about our desire for certainty, reliance on technology, and the price we pay for losing the connection to our most primal instincts.
Set in an uncanny future — or perhaps a slightly alternate present where cellphone technology is nowhere to be found — Anna (Jessie Buckley; Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, TIFF ’22) and her partner Ryan (Jeremy Allen White) have achieved every couple’s dream: they are in possession of a document certifying their true love.
Their comfortable if somewhat mundane life, however, leaves Anna questioning their successful love test, administered by placing their extracted fingernails into a cutting-edge machine. Anna soon begins working for the Love Institute under the tutelage of Duncan (Luke Wilson), which, in addition to determining a couples’ status via the mysterious test, trains them to deepen bonds.
There, she’s paired with the experienced — and devastatingly charming — Amir (Riz Ahmed; Sound of Metal, TIFF ’19) to take couples at various stages of relationships through a series of love-building activities before the big test. As the new colleagues work to ameliorate the connections of clients, Anna begins to wonder if perhaps Amir is her one true love and if trusting her own feelings is a more reliable metric than what is determined by a machine.
For his English language debut, Greek director Christos Nikou (Apples), who shot the film on 35mm, weaves a surreal allegory commenting on our desire for certainty and our reliance on technology. His refreshing voice and dexterous aesthetic combine to create an unflinching warning about what may be if we lose connection to our most primal instincts.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival