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Equity - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
Equity
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Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+



Positioning yourself as a standout because most of the leads are women only works when the film is particularly memorable. With a movie like Ghostbusters, the sexism manifests itself as anger among idiots who insist it's "ruining their childhood" -- but that's because it's taking on a beloved franchise that already existed. With a movie like Equity, which is about women investment bankers, that particular context is absent. So instead of audiences getting up in arms about anything, they literally ignore it.

Equity doesn't deserve to be ignored. If there is any reason to see it, it's Anna Gun, who shines as the senior investment banker struggling to keep a major deal intact as she slowly realizes the corruption around her. But neither does Equity deserve any huge accolades; it's a serviceable movie about people in finance, which touches on double standards regarding the treatment of women and could have been at least slightly more pointed about it. There's no need for harping on any particular issue here; it just has a relatively run-of-the-mill script that could have used some punching up.

Here is a movie that, if all or most of the characters were men and it was just about the corruption and backstabbing among colleagues and friends, would have been relatively pointless. This is no Margin Call -- although, to be fair, that movie didn't get near the attention it deserved either. It just happened to be a lot better than this one. Either way, it's a movie about people in finance and who has any interest in that? Which brings us again to the key difference: with enough talent, any subject matter can be made interesting.

Still, there's something to be said for films that cast the majority of their leads as women, and how insanely rare it is that this even happens. Even most films with a female lead are packed with supporting characters who are usually all men. This dynamic causes an odd elevation to a movie like Equity. I honestly didn't have any huge interest in this movie, but I saw it largely because I felt it should be supported. Once we live in a better world of Hollywood representation, I can feel more comfortable looking at a movie like this and thinking, That looks boring, and skipping it.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this film, after all, and it does have some provocative ideas. It just focuses more on the story set in the world of finance than it does on being provocative, which lessens the impact of anything interesting it might have to say. There's a nice moment when Anna Gunn gets to utter the line, "I love money," and obviously there are many people out there who agree. Perhaps a smaller group of people find investment banking a compelling subject matter for a film -- or at least, investment banking on its own, without the flash and pizzazz of a film like, say, The Wolf of Wall Street. There are no wild parties filled with sex and drugs in Equity.

There are, however, dynamically and three-dimensionally realized female characters. Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) is boss to ambitious Erin Manning (Sarah Megan Thomas), and girlfriend to a shady character named Michael Connor (James Purefoy) who is being investigated by suspicious prosecutor Samantha (Alysia Reiner). All of these woman give compelling performances, and it is indeed refreshing to see a film that may still have plenty of roles for men but all of them are secondary. You just don't see that, especially in the world depicted here.

Fundamentally, Equity works -- and works well -- on every level. There's just also something missing from it, a real sense of drama -- I wanted this movie to keep me on the edge of my seat, and instead of merely managed not to bore me. You can find plenty of articles online about the making of this film, and how many of the women seen onscreen in it also produced and what their motives were and how groundbreaking they feel it is -- and those articles are ultimately more interesting than the movie itself. And I am clearly not the only one who feels this way: the proof is in the box office. This is a low-budget film that hasn't even gotten halfway to breaking even.

But, maybe Equity simply tried to take on too much. But someone had to do it, and maybe next time a movie like this can move up from "not bad" to "must see." This one checks all the boxes in satisfying ways, but it's still just checking off the boxes.

Anna Gunn can't quite keep up with the corruption in EQUITY.


Overall: B
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