The last time I bolted out of a theatre because a character had yanked or otherwise torn off a fingernail was during a January 1993 screening of Lodge Kerrigan‘s Clean, Shaven. For the following 30-plus years I enjoyed a moviegoing experience that was free of fingernail trauma, but then along came Christos Nikou‘s Fingernails, which I saw last night.

Officially described as a “science fiction romantic psychological drama”, Fingernails is also a kind of dry absurdist comedy. I would also call it an odd form of psychological stress. It’s basically saying that aggressive technology and innovation are preying upon romantic couples, and that this situation is basically fucked up.

It’s about a cohabiting couple, Jessie Buckley‘s Anna and Jeremy Allen White‘s Ryan, and how their relatively healthy relationship runs aground when Anna lands a job at an institute that helps romantic couples determine if their relationship is on solid footing and fated to last. The institute’s clients are asked to submit to eccentric and occasionally bizarre exercises that will presumably reveal true emotional leanings or priorities.

Anna is assigned to work with Amir (Riz Ahmed), a soft-spoken, senior-level trainer. You know from the get-go that Ann and Amir (who has a steady girlfriend) will hook up and that the usual turbulence will result. But that’s nothing compared to the turbulence I went through last night during not one but two fingernail-yanking scenes. I made it through the first but freaked out during the second. I grabbed my computer bag and escaped.

It’s also worth nothing that during my 70 minutes of viewing my attention was constantly divided between (a) the usual elements (plot, dialogue, milieu, vibes) and (b) Buckley’s intensely annoying chopped-off hipster haircut. I’m sorry but it bothered the shit out of me.

Official synopsis: “Anna and Ryan have found true love, [and] it’s been proven by a controversial new technology. There’s just one problem: Anna still isn’t sure. Then she takes a position at a love testing institute, and meets Amir.”

Fingernails is produced by Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Coco Francini for Dirty Films and Lucas Wiesendanger for FilmNation Entertainment. Executive producers are FilmNation Entertainment’s Glen Basner, Milan Popelka and Alison Cohen, alongside Ashley Fox, Kevin Lafferty and Jerome Duboz.

Supporting cast members include Annie Murphy, Luke Wilson and Nina Kiri.

The official world premiere happens at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, followed by a limited theatrical release on 10.27. Apple TV will begin streaming it on 11.3.