CLTure Quick Hit: Equals

By Jonathan Shuping

July 30, 2016

CLTure Quick Hits are brief reviews of films in limited Charlotte release, the kind of movies that can be hard to spot through the wall of “event” movies churned out by Hollywood throughout the year. Be sure to hit these movies quickly, as their stay in theaters tends to be shorter than the blockbusters.

While it certainly seems like Equals should be based on another futuristic YA novel, Drake Doremus – not to be confused with Dr. Drake Ramoray from Friends – directed and conceived the story behind this sci-fi romance about an emotionless utopia (or dystopia, depending on which character you ask).   

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The Stepford husbands and wives who make up The Collective, a community of nuclear holocaust survivors, walk around like lemmings dressed in varying shades of white in a world reminiscent of EPCOT with its concrete buildings, staircases, walkways, and tunnels. Sliding doors and touchscreens ding and drone as the zombies go about their day, inundated with bulletins warning of the dangers and symptoms of Switched-On Syndrome (SOS). You see, people who contract this “bug” begin to do all sorts of crazy things like smiling, crying, or (gasp) touching.  If you “catch” it, you will be detained at the institution for Defective Emotional Neuropathy (DEN). So if that girl at work starts to look hot to you and is giving you bedroom eyes from across the office, look out!   

Aside from all the scary acronyms, there are a few major plot points that go unexplained and become sort of bothersome (why were emotions deemed to be humanity’s downfall? how is SOS detected in blood?), but despite these, Equals is absolutely hypnotic to watch. Almost every scene is bathed in soft aquamarine light, with some amber alternated in when those illicit emotions start to flare up.  The ethereal, atmospheric score is mesmerizing. The cinematography is intoxicating with it’s subjects drifting in and out of focus throughout a shot. And there are lots and lots of extreme close-ups of Kristen Stewart’s various facial features.

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At its core, this is a Romeo and Juliet-esque story of forbidden love and thanks to the engrossing tone the film sets as well as the performances of Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, you really, really want these two to end up together, and you will not want to stop watching.    

Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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