Equals (2015) | Competition | Venice Film Festival 2015

July 24th, 2016
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Drake Doremus

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult, Guy Pearce, Bel Powley

101min  Sci-Fi   US

A futuristic love story set in a world where emotions have been eradicated

Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) has moved us with his tender love stories such as Like Crazy and Breathe In, but sci-fi romance eludes him despite Nathan Parker’s decent script that explores a world where emotion and sex are forbidden. With its catatonic pacing, EQUALS is minimalist in the most derogatory sense of the word and quotes every important Sci-fi movie ever made but forgets to create anything new. Worst still, its central lovers (Stewart /Hoult) have no chemistry.

Living in a futuristic collective, where everything seems to be white/beige: the buildings, the Nehru suits everyone wears – even the brains seem to be equally white washed. It is very difficult to create any excitement in a world bereft of emotion. Feelings are detected in regular controls and the victims are sent on a last trip. Our leading lovers, Nia and Silas hide in a little cupboard, just to hold hands. When their love blossoms, they are helped by an underground movement called ‘Hiders’, led by Guy Pearce and Jackie Weaver. But they fall victim of the ‘Health and Safety Department’, and their punishment in this dystopia is final and fatal.

Doremus tries very hard for symbolism: Silas is an illustrator, Nia writes the texts. The white gowns and militaristic day-to-day life may hint at how life under Islamist fundamentalism might be. Filmed in Japan and Singapore, images by DOP John Guleserian are impressive. But we cannot engage with Stewart and Hoult; particularly Stewart is particularly vacuous, coming across like a dead fish: not for a second can one believe that she would risk her life for a basic emotion, never mind passionate love. Nia and Silas are timid and passive, somehow one wants to root for their capture. If there would be a prize for the most insipid couple in film history, they would be odds-on favourites.AS


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