By Bob Bloom
At its core, “Equity” is a financial thriller. The drama’s subtexts, though, cover a wide core of issues.
The main story centers on Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn), a senior investment banker trying to be a “rainmaker” in the brutal world of Wall Street.
Her latest project is not going well, as subterfuge and shady dealings threaten the IPO of a hot tech company she is representing.
Naomi wants to climb the corporate ladder, but the ingrained sexism and misogyny of that world make the rise more difficult.
At a college reunion, Naomi hooks up with an old friend, Samantha Ryan (Alysia Reiner), a Justice Department investigator who now takes on white collar crime in the financial world.
Naomi slowly grows defensive when Samantha begins gently probing during their cordial, but tense, meeting.
Naomi is one of the speakers at the event, and she tells the younger women in the audience that they should not feel guilty or ashamed about wanting to make money.
Yes, she says, women should feel fulfilled in their fields, be ambitious and want to do good things, but financial security also is a worthy objective.
In her personal life, Naomi is involved with Michael Connor (James Purefoy), a broker at another division of her investment bank.
One of Naomi’s rules is that they do not talk shop nor share information, as it would be considered insider trading, which is frowned upon by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
At work, Naomi’s young vice president, Erin Manning (Sarah Megan Thomas) is pressuring her about a pay increase as well as a promotion.
Director Meera Menon and screenwriters Amy Fox, Thomas and Reiner, use the film as a sounding board for the obstacles women have to overcome in what is still considered — by many — as a man’s game.
The deep-rooted gender politics are always near the surface.
Erin, for example, is pregnant and worries about her future at the firm. Samantha, who has two kids with her partner, is pondering changing jobs, feeling that she is not making a difference.
The IPO launching is a disaster, mostly because of betrayal by those closest to Naomi.
“Equity” is a solid movie with finely etched performances, especially by Gunn, Thomas and Reiner. At times, it does get too involved and clunky, but not enough to throw you off balance.
The film is a suspenseful, smart and sharp depiction of women trying to succeed on their talents in a world that mostly fails to appreciate what they have to offer.
That the story is told from a woman’s perspective soon becomes inconsequential, as the themes of greed, deception and disloyalty are universal.
“Equity” is not a gimmick movie. It’s a full-blown noir-like drama that you will find engrossing.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
3½ stars out of 4