I’ve never enjoyed a film with Kristen Stewart in it before – not because she can’t act, because she can – but because she never seems to play the right parts. Unfortunately playing Bella in the ‘Twilight’ series has tainted her career somewhat, and so I’m glad I finally got to watch a film where she was playing the right character for her acting style.
‘Equals’ (directed by Drake Doremus) takes part in a dystopian future where human beings have been removed of all emotions, meaning that the concept of war no longer exists. Emotions and feelings are now seen as a disease (Switched-On Syndrome, or S.O.S as it is often referred to), and so anyone catching this disease has no option but to be seen by a doctor and hope it goes away. If it does not then the outlook is bleak – as there is no cure then the ‘sufferer’ is encouraged to either commit suicide, or go to The Den where they will be destroyed.
Silas (Nicholas Hoult), an illustrator, finds himself in the early stages of the disease and ends up falling in love with Nia (Kristen Stewart), who also suffers; unlike Silas though, Nia has kept the disease to herself for quite some time. That is essentially the plot – as the disease progresses so does their love for one another, and the danger that they are both in. Being someone who often gets annoyed at on-screen romances that don’t really need to be there, I found it very refreshing to watch a film where the main relationship in the film actually is the plot – this is something that worked very well, and meant that the lack of plot to do with anything else didn’t matter at all.
As well as Stewart, Hoult also came across as very convincing in his role. He’s an actor that I’ve liked ever since I saw him in ‘Skins’, but there’s something about him that really stands out in this one. The background characters are also good but the focus is so much on Silas and Nia that we never really get to explore them that much.
The film itself is very slow-moving and gentle – it draws you in with its gauzy shots and its sensual displays of emotion. Beautiful hues are using to illustrate this all the way through, and so mood within the film is generally well-exhibited. The emotive scenes are particularly strong, which is important given that emotion is really all this film has to offer.
What really makes this film (and what others have mentioned about it) is the energy within the film and between Silas and Nia – it’s so believable, and it’s also hard not to feel yourself while watching it. It comes down to the pace and the shots that Doremus chooses to linger on. There are certain scenes where we don’t see much at all, maybe a gentle touch or a look in someone’s eye, and those are the scenes where we get the most from it. Overall it’s more of an experience than a story and, once you’ve watched it, you’ll feel like you’ve touched upon a journey, rather than just had something told to you.
‘Equals’ is beautifully done in its own way, but it’s not one to watch if you’re looking for something with a bit more action or substance. If you enjoy forbidden love or dystopian ideals without the need for any sort of conclusion, then this is a really great watch. 4/5
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