Arts Review, Movies
Meera Menon, director
Alysia Reiner & Sarah Megan Thomas, producers
Amy Fox, script
Starring: Anna Gunn (Naomi Bishop), James Purefoy (Michael Connor), Alysia Reiner (Samantha), Sarah Megan Thomas (Erin Manning), Sophie Von Haselberg (Marin), Craig Bierko (Benji Akers)
There’s been a lot of hype around Equity and rightly so. In an age when women are fighting harder than ever to direct, write and produce their own movies, it’s heartening to see a film that is a genuinely female created work. Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas not only produced the film, they also take two of the major acting roles. Second time feature film director Meera Menon, scriptwriter Amy Fox and lead actor Anna Gunn complete a quintet of talents, who have made a noteworthy film—slick but thoughtful and exceedingly well paced.
Gunn plays Naomi Bishop, an investment banker, who is recovering from one badly handled IPO (initial public offering) in an otherwise impeccable portfolio. Denied advancement by her male boss, Naomi, in turn, has her way-more-than-capable assistant Erin (Thomas) hold off on a well-deserved pay increase. The frustrated duo fling themselves into their next potential IPO, a privacy company called Cachet. At the same time, Naomi realises that Samantha (Alysia Reiner), an old college friend, who is now working in the U.S. legal office, is investigating her. Talk about cachet: Naomi may have too much of it after working as an insider in the financial sector for years.
Naomi’s occasional male companion, Michael, a hedge fund operator at her firm, also looms, like Samantha, as a potential threat. Does he simply want to have an affair with her or does he want to get the inside scoop on potential IPO’s?
Meera Menon and her producers have created an icy atmosphere in Equity. The film has the feeling of a thriller, with no one’s motivations being clear. Unlike The Wolf of Wall Street or The Big Short, Equity has no sense of humour about its subject. Perhaps that’s because women have to be well guarded in their comments and behaviour in the male dominated world of international finance. In any case, the style, while effective, leaves the viewer cold. You don’t end up rooting for any of the three women: they’re all tough, well mannered, in great shape—and absolutely heartless.
Equity leads to a cleverly constructed ending, with a few twists and turns along the way. It’s a cerebral thriller; the shocks seem to happen to the women’s notions of empowerment and self-respect. No one dies—or is even threatened all that badly, although one of the three does take a big tumble in her career.
Artfully constructed, Equity is a film that has much to recommend it. But it’s too cold blooded to be a breakthrough hit.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
Tune in to hear Marc Glassman’s Art Reviews
Friday’s at 9:07am on Good Day GTA