Remember Facebook’s over-hyped,
under-performing IPO? Naomi Bishop certainly does. However, she is more haunted
by the recent blockbuster IPO she was not able to land for her firm. She hopes
to get back on track with the initial offering for Cachet, a vaguely sketched
out internet privacy company. It’s so private, nobody really knows what is
does. Regardless, it should be money in the bank for Bishop, but some of her
closest colleagues are out to sabotage her in Meera Menon’s Equity,
which screens during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Bishop is under pressure from her
dim-witted blue-blooded boss to generate revenue the way she used to or resign
herself to career stagnation. Consequently, Bishop is in no position to help
her under-compensated and increasingly resentful assistant, Erin Manning. She
has fun hooking-up with Michael Connor, a hotshot in her firm’s trading
division, but she is right not to trust him. He is about to bolt to a rival
firm, so he is looking for inside information to hobble her IPO.
It is not clear whether it is good or bad
timing, but Bishop happens to re-connect with Samantha, an old classmate now
prosecuting securities crimes in the U.S. Attorney’s office, just as the Cachet
IPO starts to turn sour on her. (Since she works for the government, she can’t
even afford a surname.) Of course, it was no coincidence. Samantha was not so
subtly digging for dirt on Bishop’s firm.
Absolutely everyone in Equity is rotten to some extent, which
is actually refreshing. Screenwriter Amy Fox never tries to gin up phony
moralistic outrage by cutting away to the widows and orphans who stand to be
dispossessed due to the characters’ shenanigans. In Equity’s world, when you play with vipers, you are likely to get
bitten. It’s as simple as that.
Anna Gunn really gives it her all as
Bishop. She can go from earnest glass ceiling exhibit A to snarling office nightmare
on the turn of a dime. She looks like she is a part of this world, though not
necessarily comfortable within it. Co-producer Alysia Reiner avoids all the
usual crusading prosecutor clichés as the smart but ethically nuanced Samantha.
However, her co-producer Sarah Megan Thomas’s Manning is a rather blandly
vanilla, which gets a bit problematic when her sharp elbows are supposed to
come out. Frankly, the extent of Connor’s villainy seems shortsighted and
arbitrary, but James Purefoy clearly enjoys his dastardliness, which counts for
though Menon and Fox would probably be delighted if Equity led to tighter securities regulations, it would be dashed
difficult to legislate against the kind skulduggery on view here. The fact that
it does not immediately lend itself to teachable moments and online petitions
makes it one of the better thrillerish financial dramas of recent vintage.
Recommended on balance, Equity screens
again early this morning (1/30) in Park City, as part of this year’s Sundance
Labels: Business in film, James Purefoy, Sundance '16