I caught Meera Menon‘s Equity at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, and while I liked or respected most of it, I decided in the end that it was just pretty good. And when I sat down to write about it, nothing happened. I was “with it” and attuned and waiting for the power-punches to land, but they were never thrown. The behavior gets darker and nastier as things move along, but the film pretty much stays on the same level start to finish. Which isn’t a “bad” thing — it’s a totally decent film — but I felt a wee bit underwhelmed.

Promoted as “the first female-driven Wall Street movie,” Equity basically says that financial sector women are just as predatory, conniving and deceitful as the guys in Wall Street or The Wolf of Wall Street. The main problem is that it starts out with someone you’re thinking might be the audience’s friend (Anna Gunn‘s Naomi Bishop) — a rooted, charismatic lead to stand by and root for — but then shit happens and the floorboards don’t hold and [SPOILER!] Naomi gets more or less elbowed aside. We’re left at the end without a friend or a hero or anything, really. 

It’s basically a chilly film about people you don’t like or identify with, and everyone fucking their marks or rivals any way they can.

Amy Fox‘s screenplay (based on a story she wrote with costars Sarah Megan Thomas and Alysia Reiner) is a complex, ethically dicey chess-game thing. A labyrinthian downer in which every character can be counted on, sooner or later, to elicit your dislike. Naomi says about halfway through that “it’s really your friends who will stab you in the back.” Or your colleagues or office allies. Amy’s remark doesn’t quite have the ring of “keep your friends close but your enemies closer,” but it’ll do for the time being.