On Wall Street, all players are not create equal.

Equity is a smart thriller set in the corporate world that disguises its modest budget with an intelligent script and a good set of hooks. Promoting itself as ‘the first female-driven Wall Street movie,’ the film’s plot revolves mostly around female characters, and it’s also been directed, written and produced by women.

Poster art for the film EquityAnd yet, perhaps the most winning thing about Equity is that it’s not some kind of worthy empowerment drama about sisters doing if for themselves. Instead, although sexism in the workplace is definitely addressed, it plays more like an old-school film noir with the sexes casually reversed, featuring a deeply flawed protagonist (Anna Gunn of ‘Breaking Bad’), a seductive but duplicitous homme fatale (James Purefoy) and others navigating their way through an ethically shady urban world.

Made with backing and advice from people within the financial sector, Equity offers a notably different view of the world of stock and shares from such recent films as The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Big Short. Where both of the latter were, under all the clowning, ultimately moralistic satires, deeply critical of hyper-capitalism, Equity is perhaps a more honest, realistic depiction.

It’s hard to gauge how the film wants us to react when its lead character, Naomi Bishop (Gunn), unapologetically tells a room full of networking women that she ‘likes money’. She likes it not just because it can pay for things such as her younger brothers’ education or beautiful diamond earrings for herself, but because numbers fascinate her, the financial world is a game she loves to play and, of course, money is power.

At the same time, she’s well aware there’s a cost to success, especially if you are one of the few women in a male-dominated profession. Naomi is no feminist role model. When her right-hand woman Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas) asks her to advocate on her behalf for a promotion, Naomi shuts her down, apparently not willing to risk her own hard-won position to help another. Erin is only useful to Naomi in so far as she’s good at her job and willing to use a bit of feminine charm on a tech company’s creepy CEO (Samuel Roukin) to secure their firm as underwriters for an upcoming IPO.

It’s this pending share offer that drives the plot, prompting Naomi’s slippery colleague/lover Michael (Purefoy) to show his true sleazy colours as he fishes for insider information to sell to his buddies at a hedge fund.

Naomi’s old friend from college, Sam (Alysia Reiner), a state attorney investigating securities fraud, pressures Naomi to help her sniff out insider dealing at her firm. But Sam, a woman with a wife and two young children to support on a comparatively low government salary, has her own ambitions and temptations. At the end of the day, Sam also likes money. The moral, as Naomi tells Sam’s children at one point, is that ‘It’s really your friends who will stab you in the back.’

– Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

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