‘Equity’ Review: Not Worth Your Investment | Sundance 2016

     January 28, 2016

equity-anna-gunn

No film has really explored the intersection between financial power and gender, and while Equity hints that it will break that barrier, it quickly loses stock as a film of substance and devolves into meaningless financial intrigue between largely uninteresting characters. Director Meera Menon drags us on a slog where she almost steadfastly refuses to build on her promising opening theme, and instead sticks us with people who some how take juicy acts like jealousy and betrayal and turn them into rote plot points.

Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) is a banker at Wall Street firm Remson Partner, but she’s on her heels after her last deal flopped. Now she’s looking to become a rainmaker and get a promotion by negotiation a deal with the online security company Cachet. Naomi’s assistant, Erin Manning (Sarah Megan Thomas), wants to get a promotion, but can’t make any headway in the company, which is currently laying off employees. Meanwhile, Naomi’s college friend Samantha (Alysia Reiner) is investigating a company that might have a link to Remson and Naomi’s lover Michael Connor (James Purefoy), and thinks working that connection might break open the case.


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Image via Sundance

Equity begins promisingly enough with a spin on Gordon Gecko’s “Greed is good” speech where Naomi unapologetically professes not only her love for money, but condemns society for not accepting that women can be just as power-hungry as men. It’s not a particularly eloquent speech, but it’s a powerful sentiment that the film then proceeds to drop as Naomi apparently bungles the Cachet deal at almost every step and the script gets side-trekked by its various plots.

The movie looks like it badly need a screenplay polish because it comes off like a bunch of drafts of different movies thrown into a blender and they’re only sharing the same universe because they take place in the financial sector. But there’s nothing thematically linking the stories together. An investigation into financial malfeasance has nothing to do with Erin’s concerns over how her pregnancy might affect her career. The value of Cachet’s stock isn’t related to feminine power even though Menon clumsily reaches across the divide to show how the company’s skeezy CEO is condescending towards Naomi and Erin.


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Image via Sundance

With a bit more focus and polish, Equity could have been worth so much than what it turns out to be. Unfortunately, the film utterly wastes its premise along with a commanding central performance from Gunn, who is as good here as she was in Breaking Bad. She deserves much better material (I can’t say the same of her co-stars, who feel like a collection of second and third choices who don’t understand their level of importance in the story, which is understandable since the script doesn’t have a handle on that either), and viewers deserve a much better movie when it comes women in the financial sector. Hopefully, someone will invest in that one day.

Rating: D

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