Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie Review #480: "Equity" (2016)

Director: Meera Menon
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
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An investment banker named Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) works on taking a social media company with a focus on privacy to its IPO. Meanwhile, an old friend working at the attorney general's office (Alysia Reiner) investigates insider trading at her company. 

"Equity" is directed by Meera Menon. It tells the story of investment banker Naomi Bishop, played by Anna Gunn, who is working on an IPO for a social media company that specializes in privacy and security. Joining Gunn are Sarah Megan Thomas, who plays Erin Manning, the VP investment banker under Naomi, and Alysia Reiner, who plays Samantha, a prosecutor at the attorney general's office investigating insider trading and white collar crime. Thomas and Reiner also wrote the story for "Equity" along with Amy Fox, who penned its screenplay. Anna Gunn puts on an incredible, commanding performance as this tough-as-nails character who, in a male dominated industry, has worked herself up through the ranks to get to her very illustrious position on Wall Street. Her struggle to the top was not without its setbacks, and a recent mishandled IPO has threatened to haunt her in her upcoming deal with the security/social media company Cachet. Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas are also fantastic in this movie, and all of these characters are fully developed inside and outside of their work lives.

One might assume a movie about numbers and trading might not make a riveting subject matter, and unfortunately, this inclination might be correct. This is a movie about investment banking and IPOs with all the excitement of investment banking and IPOs. With stuff like board meetings, number crunching, and industry jargon, it's essentially any other movie about such a subject, the only difference is "Equity" flips the script and makes the major protagonists women, which we absolutely love and appreciate. The film does a stellar job displaying prejudices and preconceived notions people have about women in the banking industry. It shows that strong, persistent women are viewed as aggressive, abrasive or "feather ruffling" rather than bold, tough, and courageous. It also shows woman are still constantly objectified and reduced to sexual beings based on how attractive they are, which can strongly impact business deals. Unfortunately, this kind of social commentary doesn't help elevate "Equity" above its poor pace and aimless, directionless feel. It winds up feeling like a television pilot episode stretched to its limits more than a self-contained film. At one point, we felt like we just wandered into a room where a TV show was on its mid-season finale, like we were missing pieces and information that was never to come. When the movie finally begins to wrap up, it feels like there should have been a lot more there to tie up loose ends. Nothing feels resolved upon its conclusion, and all we have to wonder is why we were told the story at all if it was just going to wind up doing more of the same. Were the writers and director actually trying to convey a strong narrative, or were they just putting a magnifying glass on how corrupt Wall Street is and how some women can be just as power hungry and backstabbing as men?

We are very disappointed to say we didn't enjoy "Equity" as much as we had hoped we would. It has its occasional moment of intensity and a few sections of riveting, powerful dialogue, but overall, it's a bit too one note despite its attempt to bring a female-centric story such as this to life. A little truncation and clarity may have gone a long way.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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