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New Release Review - EQUITY

An investment banker struggles to pull off a lucrative deal amid much opposition.






Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Meera Menon

Starring: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner, Craig Bierko, Nate Corddry



Equity is buoyed by the performances of its largely female ensemble cast, but the script doesn't do any of these women justice. None of the film's characters come across as actual humans - they're merely salt shakers pushed around a restaurant table by the hand of a writer pitching their plot.



I see over 200 new release movies every year, so it's rare for me to come across actors in their late forties whom I haven't encountered before. The enthralling leads of financial thriller Equity, Anna Gunn and Alysia Reiner, fall into that age bracket. I know the former played a key role on Breaking Bad and the latter is a major player on Netflix's Orange is the New Black, but as I rarely watch modern TV, both were new to me, which says a lot about the lack of big screen roles for women over a certain age, and it's telling that it took a movie written and directed by women (Amy Fox and Meera Menon) to afford them such an opportunity.


Gunn is Naomi Bishop, an investment banker with an impressive track record that's recently been sullied by the failure of her latest deal. In Hollywood they say you're only as good as your last movie, and it seems on Wall Street you're only as good as your last deal, so Naomi needs to pull off something major to restore her reputation and put herself back in line for a promotion.

That opportunity presents itself through Cachet, an up and coming social network. Naomi lands the deal, but much of the credit has to go to her young Vice President, Erin Manning (Sarah Megan Thomas, who came up with the movie's plot outline), who communicates with the client in a down to earth language Naomi seems incapable of speaking. Regardless, Naomi is still set to achieve her goal, but an old school friend turned prosecutor, Sam (Alysia Reiner), is keeping a close eye on her and her casual lover, Michael Connor (James Purefoy), whose interest in Naomi goes beyond love and lust.


Equity is buoyed by the performances of its largely female ensemble cast, but the script doesn't do any of these women justice. None of the film's characters come across as actual humans - they're merely salt shakers pushed around a restaurant table by the hand of a writer pitching their plot. Save for an early scene at a women in business mentoring group, where Naomi expresses her love of money and states her refusal to feel guilty for such, we never really get under the skin of any of Equity's characters. All we know is that they all want to get rich, or richer; given the film's corporate setting, maybe that's the point, but it doesn't make for an involving watch.


Similarly, there's an amateurish feel to the storytelling here, with every plot beat conveyed through dialogue rather than visuals. A green pen plays a key role in a plot revelation, but rather than showing us green ink hitting paper, and allowing the audience to put two and two together, the film cheaply draws our attention to this detail through a line of dialogue. If Equity were a TV movie of the week, where such shortcuts are a necessary norm, this could be excused, but we expect better - we have to demand better - from our movies. Actors like Gunn and Reiner deserve better, but they'll probably have to sadly and ironically rely on the small screen for worthwhile roles.

Equity is in cinemas September 2nd.





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