"Equals", by filmmaker, Drake Doremus, is an out of the box, stylistic type movie that differs in almost every way from the typical Hollywood blockbuster we see every week. Starring Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart, Jacki Weaver and Guy Pearce, "Equals" places Hoult and Stewart in a dystopian society where emotions have been all but erased, yet through their interactions, they begin to develop a chemistry and relationship that produces passion and wild feelings they've never experienced. While a film like this doesn't have the bang of a large budget, special effect filled blockbuster and is often times considered dull and full of missteps, I very much enjoy getting to experience a film that challenges what the general population dubs as a traditional box office hit.
In this futuristic dystopian/utopian society, emotions have been wiped out and everyone lives in peace. Following the discovery of an illness called Switched On Syndrome (SOS) that involves the resurfacing of the ability to feel, Hoult's character Silas is diagnosed and made an outcast by the disease, which slowly begins to unravel him. As he starts to see the world through new eyes, his attraction and interest for his coworker Nia (Stewart) increases by the day. Unknowingly to Silas at first, Nia also has SOS, and is what the society calls a "hider", someone who feels but has not subjected themselves to official medial testing. Soon enough, Silas and Nia begin to engage in a romance of sorts, but when a potential permanent cure for their feelings becomes available, their relationship and very lives are threatened.
Instead of vast special effects and an action-driven plot, the film relies more on its characters and specific style. Hoult and Stewart give more than solid performances, and it's always a pleasure to watch known actors attempt something different from an acting standpoint. If you're looking for a fast-paced adventure or typical thrills, than this film isn't for you. It's a simple science fiction movie with a story we've seen time and time again – futuristic society with rules/laws that are eventually broken by a free thinker. Think the "Divergent" series, "The Giver", "The Island" (sort of), "Equilibrium", or George Lucas' "THX 1138". Men and women, trapped for a better word, in a world they are ignorant to, all wearing the same white uniform clothing, following a daily schedule, and doing as they're told, until someone finally steps up and goes against the norm.
While "Equals" is fairly similar in plot/theory to these films, unfortunately for some there is far less, to no action in this film. It can be very slow at times, with the kind of pacing and scenes that use dramatic background music and feature long pauses while a character stares into oblivion or a montage plays out. It's very predictable, but there are a few twists and gut-wrenching moments when you're not quite sure what's going to happen next. I even had a few times when I found myself thinking, "no, don't do that" or "do this instead" type reactions and often saying it out loud. The back story is very vague, and for as much sci-fi or far out material there is, a lot is left unexplained and for you to think about.
"Equals" has much to offer, but it's really not the kind of film that's typically going to attract a wide audience. For someone like myself who sees a lot of different movies, it's always a treat to see the independent, eccentric type films. It's a film that serious movie buffs may enjoy in the privacy of their own home, but won't be seen by the general public in theaters. If you enjoy out of the box, indie type festival films, than check out this film when you get a chance.
The film had its world premiere at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, as well as a premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. It was officially released on May 26th of this year through DIRECTV CINEMA, prior to it's limited theatrical release on July 15th. It is also currently available on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play and other digital platforms.
"Equals" is rated PG-13 for thematic content, sensuality, partial nudity and disturbing images. Running time is 1 hour and 41 minutes.
*Selig Rating = Cable/Freebie (saw it online for free which is the way to go)
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!