Director: Meera Menon
Sony Pictures Classics
In Theaters: 09.02
It’s been some time since a low-key potboiler set in the world of high finance came to us out of Hollywood—The Wolf of Wall Street appears to have scared them all off. Not only is Equity a film that hearkens back to smaller financial thrillers like Wall Street and Glengarry Glen Ross, but it subverts their bruising masculinity by casting all of the key players as ambitious women. While I’m totally on board with this rapidly growing trend to show us traditionally male-driven stories and characters from the perspective of women, I found myself wishing that Equity spent a little bit more time tightening its cinematic screws.
Equity tells the tale of Naomi Bishop (Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn), a hardcore investment banker with a solid portfolio of successful IPOs under her belt. After her most recent venture makes a less-than-stellar debut, she finds herself struggling to find that one Silicon Valley IPO that will redeem her reputation. Perhaps it’s her sudden surge of desperation that leads her to trust her sex buddy Michael (a properly sleazy James Purefoy) and her overly ambitious righthand woman Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas) with this process—but can they be trusted? The film answers this question quite predictably—you’ll be able to see who’s got betrayal on the brain way faster than Naomi Bishop does. Also, the addition of a financial prosecutor (Alysia Reiner) who not only happens to be an old friend of Naomi’s but also happens to be investigating her company and has a wife and kids that we’re supposed to care about was exactly as convoluted to watch as this sentence was to read.
Despite the script’s shortcomings, the performances are solid—I especially loved watching Thomas take her character from a mousy underling to a cunning rival. It is also refreshing to see a film genre that is a Hollywood staple (and almost always a total sausage fest) get reimagined with a women-led cast. The same can be said behind the camera as well—there aren’t too many films out there that boast a female director (Menon) and a female screenwriting team (Amy Fox and Sarah Megan Thomas). Equity is fun to watch as yet another indicator that women are formidable forces on both sides of the camera—but a bit more bite would have gone a long way. –Alex Springer