Equals (film)

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Equals
On the top, two cast members names are printed. In the middle, we see a fuzzy and unclear picture of two people passionately caressing and kissing. On the bottom says the film's title, along with crew names and the release date.
Teaser poster for Equals
Directed by Drake Doremus
Produced by
Screenplay by Nathan Parker
Story by Drake Doremus
Starring
Music by
Cinematography John Guleserian
Edited by Jonathan Alberts
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 5, 2015 (2015-09-05) (Venice)
  • July 15, 2016 (2016-07-15) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2 million[1]

Equals is a 2015 American science-fiction romantic drama film directed by Drake Doremus. Produced by Michael Pruss, Chip Diggins, Ann Ruak, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott, and Jay Stern, and written by Nathan Parker from a story by Doremus.

It stars Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart as two people diagnosed with a disease that regains their ability of compassion and emotion in a dystopian world where emotions do not exist; additional roles are played by Guy Pearce and Jacki Weaver.

The film had its world premiere in the international competition section at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival.[2][3] The film had its North American premiere in the Special Presentations programme at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[4][5] The film was released on May 26, 2016 through DirecTV Cinema prior to opening in a limited release on July 15 by A24.[6]

Plot[edit]

In a futuristic dystopian utopia, citizens, known as "members" live under the Collective, the legislative body who monitor the people's actions. Citizens are mentally stabilized and all emotions and most illnesses are eradicated, with emotion and sexual activity contrary to the society's rules, and conception is through artificial insemination via a conception summons.

Silas, a citizen, works as an illustrator for Atmos. Upon seeing two citizens detained by officials returning home, he is reminded of an epidemic of Switched On Syndrome (S.O.S), a disease that has 4 stages that regains those infected emotion albeit behavioral impacts as a side effect, and will lead to those eventually contained by the Defective Emotional Neuropathy Facility (the DEN), a Collective-led institution, if so deemed non-"productive". An employee commits suicide the next day falling to his death and everyone gathers behind the windows and wonders who he was. Silas notices fellow worker Nia thoroughly assessing the situation and ignores it. However, during the presentation of a spacecraft, he again sees Nia's facial expression betray her emotions and he then returns home.

During the course of the next day, Silas becomes distracted during a conference at Atmos, falls asleep more often, and experiences a nightmare for the first time. He subsequently goes for a check up and is befriended by an official named Jonas with stage 2 SOS. He becomes diagnosed with Stage 1 S.O.S and is given a prescription. Nevertheless, Silas progressively worsens, as his drawings become emotional and his interest in Nia grows, examining her work at night. One day, he follows Nia into the bathroom and comforts her. She reveals that she had S.O.S for over a year and three months and was hiding it because she was scared. He then kisses her but hears Leonard, the company manager, in the bathroom and converses with him. Leonard spots Nia's interface on and reveals that he has been monitoring Silas. Silas decides to get a job separate from Nia in a gardening section.

Leonard introduces Silas' replacement, Dominic, to Nia the next day. Nia, during a conversation with Dominic, suffers a slight anxiety attack during lunch break. At night while picking up their prescriptions Jonas invites Silas for a walk, and then discloses that he is part of a secret support group and offers help. He decides to go, where he meets fellow members Bess, Peter, Thomas, Gil, Max and Alice and learns that the DEN's patients half of the time, mostly through encouragement, commit suicide. Nia then shows up at his apartment and they have sex, agreeing to spend more time there. Thereafter, the Ashby ENI cure for S.O.S is announced and successfully created. Scared, the two decide to go to the Peninsula, a secluded, primitive section of land, to the bewildered support of the group, who warn them to never return if successful. Jonas gives Silas instructions to ask for Oliver, a pilot, to fly him to the Peninsula. Silas and Nia make plans to go to Wellington, the closest location towards the border, on Saturday. However, Nia gets a conception summons and goes to the clinic, where she discovers that she is pregnant and so is taken to the DEN.

In an almost panic Silas visits Jonas about the situation, who tells him to stay calm and go back home. Depressed, Silas goes home and becomes saddened. Bess, upon hearing from Jonas and seeing that Nia was Stage 4, takes her to a room with Jonas and Max and brief Nia on a deceased Stage 3 S.O.S patient, Eva. They then help her to fake her death by switching identities implants with Eva, so that Eva is considered alive and Nia is considered dead. She is successful and leaves the DEN but doesn't find Silas at his apartment. Meanwhile, Silas finds out that Bess, Jonas and Gilead were betrayed by Max, and were given the cure. He goes to the DEN where they tell him Nia died and so he contemplates suicide on a roof top, but gets the cure instead. He returns to his apartment and finds Nia alive and that his treatment for SOS was in vain. He remembers her, having loved her and their escape plan but doesn't remember feeling it. The next morning with Nia heartbroken they take the Wellington train. With some measure of empathy for her, and through the physical contact of holding her hand, Silas comforts Nia giving her hope as they ride to freedom together.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In October 2013, it was revealed that Drake Doremus would be directing the film, with Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult starring.[7] In June 2014, Guy Pearce joined the film, also announcing the screenplay of the film was written by Nathan Parker, with Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Ann Ruark, and Jay Stern producing, while Chip Diggins will produce under Route One, while Mike Pruss, Lee Jea Woo, Choi Pyung Ho and Russell Levine will executive produce.[8] In July 2014, Kate Lyn Sheil, Aurora Perrineau, and Jacki Weaver, joined the cast of the film.[9][10][11] Initially, the project was set up at Indian Paintbrush.[12]

Filming[edit]

Doremus, Stewart, Hoult, and producer Michael Pruss attended a press conference in Tokyo on August 2, 2014 to announce the start of the film.[13] Principal photography began on August 4, 2014 in Japan and continued until August 28, after which production moved to Singapore for another three weeks.[14] Filming wrapped in Singapore on September 26, 2014.[15]

Costuming controversy[edit]

In August 2016 Abby O’Sullivan protested the fact that she had to share costume design credit with Alana Morshead, Doremus' girlfriend who had previously worked as an actress and stylist and was not involved in the manufacturing or production duties involved with the film.[16]

Release[edit]

In September 2014, the first image from the film was released.[17] Equals was sold by Mister Smith Entertainment to over 35 territories for distribution at Marché du Film during the Cannes Film Festival.[18] On July 29, 2015, it was announced that Equals was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival and had its world premiere on September 5.[19] On August 18, 2015, it was announced the film was selected to have its North American premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[5] On October 16, 2015, it was announced A24 Films alongside DirecTV Cinema had acquired the distribution rights of the film.[20] The film was released on DirecTV Cinema on May 26, 2016, before opening in a limited release on July 15, 2016.[6]

Reception[edit]

The film has received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes currently gives the film a rating of 32% based on 66 reviews with a weighted average score of 5/10. The site's critical consesus reads, "Equals is a treat for the eyes, but its futuristic aesthetic isn't enough to make up for its plodding pace and aimlessly derivative story."[21] Metacritic assigned the film a normalized score of 43 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews ".[22]

Peter Debruge of Variety, giving the film a positive review, said "Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult play citizens living in an emotion-free future who struggle to understand the attraction they feel for one another in this stylish, if simplistic sci-fi romance."[23] While, IndieWire gave the film a C- and called that "the real wonder and marvel and breathless mystery of Equals may be that something so dazzlingly white can be so very dull."[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Equals". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Venice Film Festival: Lido Lineup Builds Awards Season Buzz – Full List". Deadline.com. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Venice Fest Reveals Robust Lineup Featuring Hollywood Stars and International Auteurs". Variety. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  4. ^ http://tiff.net/festivals/festival15/specialpresentations/equals
  5. ^ a b Erbland, Kate (August 18, 2015). "Toronto International Film Festival Adds New Galas and Special Presentations, Including 'Mr. Right,' 'I Saw the Light,' 'Our Brand is Crisis' and 'Equals'". IndieWire. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Dershowitz, Jessica (April 18, 2016). "Equals trailer: Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult found love in a dystopian place". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  7. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (October 24, 2013). "Drake Doremus Eyes Kristen Stewart And Nicholas Hoult For Next Pic 'Equals'". Deadline.com. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  8. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (June 12, 2014). "Guy Pearce Joins Futuristic Love Story 'Equals' With Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  9. ^ Yamato, Jen (July 8, 2014). "Kate Lyn Sheil Joins Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult In 'Equals'". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  10. ^ Yamato, Jen (July 9, 2014). "'Jem' Star Joins 'Equals'; Comedy 'This Is Happening' Sets Cloris Leachman & More". Deadline.com. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  11. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (July 16, 2014). "Drake Doremus' Futuristic Love Story 'Equals' Sweet On Jacki Weaver". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  12. ^ Penderson, Erik (July 15, 2016). "Kristen Stewart In Two Weekend Openers Including Woody Allen's 'Café Society' – Specialty Preview". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 15, 2016. 
  13. ^ Schilling, Mark (August 2, 2014). "Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult Talk Up Real Feelings at 'Equals' Press Launch". Variety. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult Talk Up Real Feelings at 'Equals' Press Launch". Retrieved August 3, 2014. 
  15. ^ Doremus, Drake (September 26, 2014). "Thank you Japan and Singapore for opening your hearts to us! Can't wait for you to see the film next year:) #Equals". Twitter.com. Retrieved February 11, 2016. 
  16. ^ O'Falt, Chris. "'Equals' Rights: Plagiarism Accusation Ignites Behind-the-Scenes Battle Over Costume Design". Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  17. ^ Staff, THR (September 26, 2014). "'Equals': Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult Conspire in First Look at Sci-Fi Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  18. ^ Kemp, Stuart (June 12, 2014). "Guy Pearce Joins 'Equals' Opposite Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  19. ^ http://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/72nd-festival/line-up/off-sel/venezia72/
  20. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (October 16, 2015). "A24, DirecTV Acquire 'Equals' With Kristen Stewart (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Equals". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Equals Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  23. ^ Debruge, Peter (September 4, 2015). "Venice Film Review: 'Equals'". Variety. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  24. ^ Kiang, Jessica (September 4, 2015). "Venice Review: Drake Doremus' 'Equals' With Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult, Guy Pearce & Jacki Weaver". IndieWire. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 

External links[edit]