Drake Doremus’ latest film is visually stunning, heart warningly touching, and largely derivative.
At this point in time, there is a lot of literature and films about dystopian and seemingly perfect future societies. In almost all of these stories, peace and stability was brought about by some change, either a totalitarian government or a genetic change. ‘Equals’ is right in line with the genre, in which society has been brought to a state of complete peace and security, due to the elimination of all human emotions. However, with the rise of an illness that causes people to feel emotions for the first time in their lives, we find our two protagonists, played by Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart falling in love because of it. To say a lot has been said about this genre is an understatement, however, this film finds a way to be less a statement about government and society and more a trued and tried forbidden love story.
The film is certainly pleasing visually. From the unique futuristic and calm setting to the use of colors to contrast the white and grey blandness of life without emotion. Drake Doremus does a great job directing this film, giving special attention to and contrasting the blandness of society and the emotional aspects of these characters. However, he does tend to drag scenes on just a bit too much, giving the movie a rather tediously slow pace. You’ll often find yourself a little bored wondering when something new is going to happen. If the film had been cut to be about 20 minutes shorter, the film would be much more engaging and the emotional and telling scenes where the characters discover their emotions wouldn’t be affected at all.
If you had to pick two actors to play emotionless drones, Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart much be pretty high up on your list of choices, for obvious reasons. Hoult, on top of being a great actor, has played sedate and quiet characters. Stewart is sort of a one gear actress, maintaining a devil may care attitude in most of her roles. While she comes off as more of disheveled than emotionless, she manages to play the role in spades. Her understanding of the character and role is great. Hoult’s performance was one to note for sure, as he had great solo scenes as well as performed well in the intimate scenes with Stewart. While he seems to exaggerate a bit when discovering emotions, he manages to really convey he’s never felt emotions before in his life.
The story seems to rip bits and pieces of other well known stories, such as Brave New World, 1984, and Romeo Juliet. While in the end you get an entirely different story, it still doesn’t feel very interesting or very new. It falls in line with tropes and other aspects of the genre. If you’re a hopeless romantic who believes love conquers all and is very patient, you’ll like this rather slow movie, sweet, love story.