Equity movie scene of Anna Gunn & Sarah Megan Thomas at the boardroom table


Equity is a tense Wall Street thriller, in which female power players match the ruthlessness of their male counterparts in high stakes corporate games.

Review: (rolanstein)
Like all films of its ilk, Equity is essentially a Faustian drama, in which the players must decide the price of their humanity. With big bucks the measure of success in the Wall Street world, and the status and material luxuries that come with it the personal payoff, ethics and morality become obstacles to negotiate rather than guiding principles.

A point of novelty here is that the central players are women (as are the director and screenwriters). Dramatic conflicts between three female antagonists with differing agendas power the narrative.

Naomi Bishop (Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn) has had a setback with a recent IPO failure, and is working on re-establishing herself as a star investment banker by shepherding a Facebook-like tech company to a successful stock market listing.

She’s on a tightrope without a safety harness above a pool full of sharks. She must deal with her whip-crackin’ tyrant of a boss and the arrogant owner (Samuel Roukin) of the start-up firm, but her most formidable antagonists are her ambitious subordinate Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas), who covets her position, and snooping US Justice Department prosecutor Samantha (Alysia Reiner), a past friend whose convenient emergence back into her life raises a red flag. Then there is her lover (James Purefoy), a broker on the sniff for insider information – a dangerous and imprudent partner choice for someone in her position.

In typical Wall Street movie style, the characters’ pursuit of their separate agendas plays out like a poker game, where psychological manipulation is the weaponry, and bluff, deception, collusion and dirty deals legitimate ammunition. Never less than compelling viewing, this sort of thing, and the acting is first class.

The Wall Street milieu as it’s depicted here has an authentic feel to it, and as such is elemental to the horror-fascination of the film – what a weird, disconnected, artificial and spiritually bereft world it is. The same might be said of the players, who are universally unappealing. How could they be otherwise? They have all but sold out their humanity for money and status (thankfully, the true cost of that decision is alluded to in the concluding stages).

It’s a measure of the quality of the filmmaking and performances that Equity remains gripping throughout in the absence of a true protagonist. Indeed, the distancing effect of not having a character with whom to identify or sympathise encourages an objective appraisal of the players and their world – a shrewd strategy on the part of the director and writers.

Movie website: http://sonyclassics.com/equity/

Equity features: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner
Director: Meera Menon
Writers: Amy Fox (screenplay/story), Sarah Megan Thomas (story), Alysia Reiner (story)

Australian release date: 29 Sep 2016 (@ Cinema Paradiso in Perth)

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