Movie review: This sleek, fascinating drama about three women was also written and directed by women. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn of TV’s “Breaking Bad”) speaks with a voice seemingly marinated in velvet. An investment banker at a Wall Street firm, she specializes in guiding Silicon Valley startups through the labyrinth of an initial public offering — and, as such, she knows how to sell. Early on, in Meera Menon’s equally sleek drama “Equity,” she purrs her pitch to a tech exec, promising to smooth the way “so that you can build technology that transforms people’s lives.” She sounds like a software commercial, and she knows it.
“Equity” is that rare thing: a Wall Street-set movie that focuses on women. (It’s also directed and written by women, also still rare.) Three of them make up this story: Naomi, her younger associate Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas) and Samantha (Alysia Reiner), a Justice Department investigator and former college acquaintance of Naomi’s, who’s looking into cases of financial crime — and is intrigued by Naomi’s close relationship with Michael (James Purefoy), a broker at Naomi’s firm.
As Naomi reels in a tricky social-network IPO, with Erin’s breathless assistance and under Samantha’s watchful eye, questions arise: Are Naomi’s conversations with Michael insider trading or just office gossip? Will Erin’s pregnancy, which she’s trying to keep secret, affect her ambitions at the firm? Will Samantha say anything to find out what she needs to know — and does that make her unethical, or just a good investigator? Can any of these characters really trust each other?
Movie Review ★★★
‘Equity,’ with Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner. Directed by Meera Menon, from a screenplay by Amy Fox. 100 minutes. Rated R for language throughout. Several theaters.
The film looks sleekly elegant, maybe too much so; some of the costuming seems overdone (why is Samantha so fond of vested pantsuits?) and a few too many scenes involve people sitting alone in moodily lit offices or apartments. But it’s fun to watch Samantha playing her sources like a teenager plays a video game — expertly, offhandedly — and fascinating to witness the machinations between Naomi and Erin, neither of whom ever tells the other what she’s thinking. You suspect that Naomi’s thoughts, hinted to us in Gunn’s fierce performance, are something less than velvety.
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