Under My Nails (2012) Poster

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10/10
Smoldering and ominous
themick200829 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I've never written a movie review on IMDb before but I'm stunned that no one has written at least a few words on behalf of this entertaining movie.

I watched it today on the HBO SG (asia) channel, coming across it quite by accident. I admit my initial intentions were salacious. The synopsis was along the lines of a young woman experiencing an awakening of dark sexual desires with a dangerous neighbor. I decided to watch for a few sexy scenes and perhaps move on but I stayed for the entire movie because it captured my interest and didn't let go. The movie doesn't rush itself but moves along at a steady and logical pace.

The movie centers around a young Dominican woman living alone in a small new york apartment. She works in a nail salon, lives a rather solitary existence and is haunted by childhood memories of losing her father. I was dazzled by the performance of the young star, Solimar (Kisha Burgos). I've never seen or heard of this actress before. She is hot and sizzles in sex scenes, whether alone or with her partner Roberto (Ivan Camilo). Yet she is entirely believable as a lonely, isolated person leading a somewhat drab existence.

Solimar's life is altered when a new couple move in next door. The woman, Perpetune (Dolores Pedro), is from Haiti, the man a fellow Dominican. Roberto's somewhat overbearing mother moves in too and is never very far from Roberto's side. Solimar can't help but hear the noisy couples' fighting and lovemaking through the thin walls. She becomes a voyeur, living a vicarious sex life through the couples sexual escapades. One night as Solimar listens into one of their fights she hears a loud thump and then silence. Perpetune abruptly disappears from the movie. Solimar imagines the worse.

With Roberto's interfering mother being the catalyst, Solimar and Roberto meet and eventually begin an affair. Solimar is drawn in by Roberto's macho, direct personality. At the same time she is repulsed by the thought he might be a murderer and pulls away from him as she looks for evidence of his guilt. The tension maintains throughout the movie. Under My Nails doesn't let you go or falls into a predictable movie convenience. The outcome could swing either way up until the end.

Ivan Camilo is very good as Roberto. He is a violent predator and at the same time he seems filled with self loathing and tries to move away from Solimar. Their explosive chemistry together won't allow the other to escape. The sex scenes in the movie are brave and a bit unseemly. These uneasy partners are driven by lust while their personalities continually clash. Nothing is glamorized.

Much of the movie bounces from Spanish to English. Perhaps I was softened by my two years of Spanish in school but the subtitles didn't bother me at all. It felt natural for the bilingual characters to move back and forth between languages as their moods and comfort levels varied.

I don't know anything about cinematography but all the production values of Under My Nails seem high. It looks like any medium sized budget movie coming out of Hollywood. The script is not weighed down by too many words. We see as well as hear how the characters develop.

The ending was somewhat a let down for me because of it's non-action and non-resolution. Yet I think the ending works. We leave the movie wanting to know more and see more and that's why I think Under My Nails is successful and a worthwhile way to spend an hour and a half.
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7/10
Under My Nails
JohnSeal7 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This bilingual (English and Spanish) drama from Puerto Rico was primarily shot on location during a snowy New York winter and stars newcomer Kisha Burgos as Solimar, a young woman living a hermit-like existence in the Bronx. Orphaned at an early age and raised by her uncle Amalia (Antonio Pantojas), Solimar works at a nail salon, where her only friend is co-worker Rose (Maite Bonilla). The neighbors in the flat next door, however, bring unwanted change to Solimar's life, as she's exposed to their noisy fighting and even noisier sex sessions. The result: a kitchen sink take on the Repulsion meme (albeit one where the sexual themes are more overt), with our heroine sinking deeper into loneliness and depression as she develops an unhealthy obsession with all that noise. Burgos - who also wrote the screenplay - is excellent, and though the film's a slow burner, you'll be engaged until the end.
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