HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:70
“Equity” was labeled and marketed as being the female “Wolf of Wall Street”, portraying how women need to work harder, balance more, and connive more frequently in order to make it out there in the heavily competitive world of Wall Street. Directed, produced, and financed by women, it was angled straight in for a female hit that would be able to cross the border between female empowerment and great cinema. The nuts and bolts were all there. Great actresses, a solid director (Meera Menon made the hilarious comedy “Farrah goes Bang”), and a decent looking script. However what was left out was a compelling story. I was worried that the movie was going to be all “rah rah feminism!” and alienate a good portion of the viewers, but that was not the problem. In fact “Equity” managed to balance the ambitions and goals of these women and portray them just as PEOPLE. People who just happened to be women in this Wall Street monstrosity. The first 15 minutes of the movie coast along pretty nicely, but then you come to realize that there is no buildup. No “hook”, so to speak. What you see is what you get, and what you see is a B-level drama that borders on melodrama and manufactured conflict.
Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) is ready for the big leagues. A high priced senior investment banker, she is on the verge of making her play for the big leagues (or at least bigger leagues). She’s the lead banker in charge of a tech IPO that is about to go public, and if it goes the way she wants it to she is looking at a major promotion and more power than she could ever dream. However, this is never an easy thing in the world of Wall Street. People are out there willing to throw her under the bus at the slightest sign of weakness so they can take over and have their cut of the pie. Naomi has to keep her head above water and navigate the shark infested waters that is her home turf. Simultaneously we have sub plots about Naomi’s underappreciated assistant Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas). A woman who is almost as smart as Naomi, and just as motivated. Or Naomi’s hedge fund manager boyfriend Michael Connor (James Purefoy), who is blatantly obvious in his intentions to throw Naomi under the bus if he can get half a chance.
All the while these wolves are tearing at a piece of the intellectual property carcass, a state prosecutor named Samantha (Alysia Reiner) is circling the water just looking for a way to nail Naomi and her fellow bankers with fraud and insider trading. A job that brings her closer to the world of subterfuge, betrayal and conquest in than she ever had thought possible. Whoever wins, whoever loses, remember. It’s just a game.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86906[/img]I hate to say it, but the big “hook” for “Equity” was the fact that it was made by women, starring women and ABOUT women in the workplace. Past that there really wasn’t much hype for the film and I can see why. It has a very “made for TV” vibe about it, with passable acting by decent actresses, and a story that just goes nowhere. You can tell that the powers that be really wanted “Equity” to be the next best thing. A powerful, gripping drama about the struggle of women in the workplace and how difficult it is. Sadly what we got is a watered down script that has the plot just floating along like a piece of driftwood in the river. Anna Gunn was a great addition to “Breaking Bad” so I had high hopes for her, and James Purefoy is a fantastically underrated actor. The problem is that they’re not given much to work with here. Anna is playing the angry executive with very little emotions other than rage mode, while James just silently smirks the whole time as the greasy hedge fund manager. Everyone else just blends into the woodworks to the point where you can not recognize anyone in the whole homogenous lot.
It’s really not their fault. Most of these actors and actresses are very solid in their own right, but the script and lackluster directing really let them down. The 100 minute film really feel like a 120+ minutes (which says something for the pacing), and I was checking my watch more than once during the sitting. Everything that goes on in the big bad world of banking feels clichéd and super well worn. Like we’ve not only seen it before, but seen it a hundred times before. Even the very ending “twist” with Samantha and her quoting Naomi’s line at the beginning just feels trite and clichéd. There was promise in the idea of exploring the love of money and power, but instead just devolved into your average financial “thriller” with a few tacked on lines that say “yeah, we can want power just as much as men!” to make the viewer think they’re watching something deeper.
Rated R for language throughout
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86914[/img]I can’t verify for certain (my sources can’t seem to confirm one way or the other), but “Equity” certainly looks to be a digitally shot production. Colors are fairly neutral, with a lightly cool color grading that effectively gives a light grey and blue shroud to many of the scenes. Inside the home for Samantha and Naomi we get to see a bit more gold and honey overtones, but overall it’s a fairly blue/gray looking film. White levels are evenly balanced throughout and the blacks are decently revealing (and don’t seem to have any major artifacting hiding in the shadows). Fine detailing is usually excellent, but faces seem to have a lightly gauzy or hazy look to them, something which can give the overall impression of softness even though the rest of the objects in focus are incredibly sharp and detailed.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86922[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is just what you would expect for a TV style drama. Very front heavy with a few directional queues in the background as well as the hustle and bustle of the market floor to fill out the surrounds a little bit. A majority of the time we’re dealing with a very dialog centric mix that focuses on hushed whispers and enclosed spaces for most of the 100 minute runtime. When Naomi opens for Cachet near the end of the film we get a more robust feeling, with the screaming and yelling and chaos of Wall Street style experience, but other than that the dialog and few front sound stage imaging effects. LFE is tight and clean, but fairly restrained, and mostly used to accentuate some of the tenser moments with a throbbing down beat.
• "Girl Gang: The Equity of Empowerment"
• "Grey Lines: The Making of Equity"
• "Los Angeles Film Festival Q&A"
“Equity” is no “Wolf of Wall Street” or “Wall Street”. Hey, it’s not even “Wall Street 2”, it just “is” if you know what I mean. Coasting through with a fairly pedestrian storyline and no real intensive directing, “Equity” ends up just being a made for TV level movie that just passes completely under the radar. It’s not a horrible movie. It doesn’t make you cringe in pain, but rather I had no emotional attachment to the film one way or the other. It just exists. The audio and video from Sony are quite nice, and while I wasn’t expecting much extras, the three special features on the disc ARE a bit slim. Not the best, not the worst, “Equity” makes for a super late night movie rental when you’re trying to fight off insomnia. Cheap rental at best.
Starring: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas
Directed by: Meera Menon
Written by: Amy Fox, Sarah Megan Thomas
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Descriptive Service, French DD 5.1
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 13th 2016
Buy Equity On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Cheap Rental
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