The versatile actress is the major reason to watch Drake Doremus’s stylish but slightly befuddling film Equals. The film is marred by a formal insistence to show instead of allow for more of a slow burn. The film belongs in a museum and does not give its knowing audience much of a chance to breathe.
The story is about the future, but obviously very much about the present as well. It concerns a disease called Switched on Syndrome, (S.O.S. for short), which is necessary in this post-apocalyptic, yet calm future. The only catch is that the inhabitants can’t feel, have sex, pretty much any sort of expression of autonomy. Let’s not even get started on babies.
Through this new reality we first encounter Silas, an office drone working for The Collective. In scenes reminiscent of Fight Club, Silas undergoes a sense of repetition, which undermines his sense of feeling, (which makes sense because the population that survives is switched off at birth). It is clear that his co-worker Nia (Stewart) is also undergoing a sense of transformation, but she is also incapable of feeling.
The doe-eyed Stewart is ideal for this role, as her gaze and expression reveal a deep nuance underneath a facade of conformity. The biggest shame in Equals is this story doesn’t belong to Nia but to Silas, (at least for a narrative centre), and while interesting actors such as Bel Powley, Kate Lyn Sheil and Guy Pearce make impressions, Equals belongs to Kristen Stewart. She is unequaled by Hoult. Had Doremus given us far more Nia, now that would be something, and would have been unequaled, a film that would be impossible to switch off.