I cannot say that The Ring Finger was an awful movie, but it was probably one of those movies with a halfway decent premise and a poorly conceived execution.
The Ring Finger is a relatively unknown French film starring a beautiful young actress named Olga Kurylenko. She is very pretty on the eyes, but lacks the energy or general fire power to bring out anything deep about her character. She goes for a more subtle performance, trying to deliver the innerworkings of her character, but the screenplay she is working off of lacks the dramatic depth for this to be pulled off very well.
The Ring Finger is about a girl who lands a job as a secretary at a laboratory that preserves specimens people bring in. The specimens are always connected to a deep memory that the person is trying to distance themselves from. With a premise this deep, I expected the execution of the story to bring me the same amount of emotional response, or at least a similar response, that I received from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which featured a similar premise. But I didn't get that emotional response. The film doesn't dig down as deeply as I expect it had the potential to.
The plot is also more or less diluted. There are characters here who show up and tease the audience with insight, but then leave again before that insight is led to anything aesthetic. For instance, Olga's character Iris shares a room with a man she has never met. He works nights and she works days, so they sleep in shifts (hey, wasn't this same plot mentioned in Sunset Boulevard? The two leads in that movie try to write this plot). One day, he leaves her a note, asking her to meet him before he leaves town. She goes to meet him, but another girl is kissing him. I'm not sure how she knew it was him since I don't think they had ever met before, but in any case, Iris leaves and never speaks to him. This scene has a lot of focus put on it for about fifteen minutes of the film, but it's never brought up again. I am assuming that it is meant to provide depth to Iris's character, but her character does not change after that encounter and she never mentions this boy to anyone afterward.
Meanwhile, there is a young boy of about ten who keeps appearing on camera throughout the movie. I had no idea who this kid was or what significance he had to the story. My first guess was that he was a ghost since no character pays him much mind, but at one point Iris does directly address the boy. Again, nothing ever becomes of him, and I was left confused as to whether or not I was suppose to take this boy's presence with any kind of heart.
Also in this film is a love story between Iris and her boss. I'm not sure why it is that every single secretary in the movies and on television sleeps with her boss, but in any event, their relationship seems to be the focal point of the story. Eventually, the two break up and Iris decides to have a specimen made of her ring finger. This eventually leads to a very beautifully directed final image in the film, but that image does not due justice to the rest of the film. It was not a poignant ending for me because there was no real build up to it; it just let itself stand alone.
However, I will admit there were some very well handled moments in this movie, including a scene in which Iris drops a Mah Jong set left by a customer. This scene isn't really brought up afterward (as is a lot of the film), but the scene itself was handled very nicely. I also really liked the performance given by Iris's boss, the scientist who makes the specimens. I got a lot more characterization out of his character from that actor's performance than I did out of Iris.
Subplots in The Ring Finger are handled sloppily, as is a lot of the film. The camerawork is sloppy, the editing is sloppy, and the screenplay was downright lazy. There was so much potential that I saw for this story, but none of that potential is really brought forth. There was so much meaning that could have been placed into these specimens--these very personal specimens--that could have built up to that beautiful final image, but it wasn't. At the end of the day, I was simply disappointed by The Ring Finger.