Aug 25, 2016

It  may lack the Wall Street movie zing, but it sure is instructive about the equity in investment banking.


Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: B-

Director: Meera Menon (Farah Goes Bang)

Screenplay: Amy Fox (Heights)

Cast: Anna Gunn (Red State), James Purefoy (High Rise)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 40 min

by John DeSando

“As you become more successful, the gender barrier disappears. The credibility challenges you have during your growing up years starts disappearing when you start demonstrating success.” Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Besides the obvious financial meaning of the title, Equity, this female-driven thriller shows how women can screw and be screwed in the Stock Market sweepstakes as well as men.   Naomi (Anna Gun) is a senior investment banker in charge of securing the best IPOs for emerging companies, and the current one for the company Cachet has intrigue to make John le Carre envious.

In most of the drama, directed by Meera Menon,  Naomi is dealing with the usual shenanigans afflicting high-powered operatives (think Wall Street and Wolf of Wall Street with a bit of Margin Call and The Big Short): a lover, Michael (James Purefoy), who is a hedge funder with interest in sabotaging her current IPO; Samantha (Alysia Reiner), an assistant with ambition on her mind; and Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas) a prosecutor-lesbian who exists to make high-powered execs like Anna nervous.

A disappointment is the feminine power motif. While Anna has an equal place at the table, there are times when womanly intuition causes her to pause for too long and feminine sexual politics seems to compromise the equity position I so looked forward to. Writer Amy Fox rather relies on a boxing motif to show Anna’s aggressive side and the number of chocolate chips in a cookie to reveal the misogyny that underlies some of the major events in the film.

The pattern of inequity is counterbalanced by Naomi’s speech about appreciating money and its cousin, ambition, but not enough to let the film slip into clichés about the vulnerability of women in the workplace.  I’m just not sure Equity takes us much further than Working Girl when in fact real life examples abound about the pre-eminence of women in the work place.

Mostly Equity, while instructive about investment banking, is slow, lacking the zing of the trading floor and the tantalizing plot twists in the best Wall Street films. Maybe that’s because in films men are still having most of the fun.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at