- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2016

It’s being called the female version of “Wall Street.” But such a label is far too simplistic to attach to “Equity,” opening Friday in the District and starring Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) as Naomi, a successful, intelligent broker who is passed over for a much-deserved promotion.

Now she needs a big winner to prove herself, and Naomi thinks she knows precisely how to get it.

That incident kicks off “Equity,” a darling of Sundance and the festival circuit that places women at the front and center of the goings-on that move the billions of America’s financial sectors, sometimes — often — under rather shady circumstances.

Miss Gunn stars alongside Alysia Reiner (“Orange Is the New Black,” “Sideways”) as a criminal investigator of questionable motives and Sarah Megan Thomas as Naomi’s subordinate VP, Erin.

Miss Reiner and Miss Thomas share co-story credit along with Amy Fox; Ms. Fox wrote the screenplay. Miss Reiner and Miss Thomas also served as producers via their production company, Broad Street Pictures. Director Meera Menon rounds out the roster of female creatives both in front of and behind the camera — even in the 21st century, still an unfortunate rarity. The film was even bankrolled by female producers and financiers.

During a stop in the District, Miss Reiner, Miss Thomas and Ms. Menon spoke of the need to get more women into creative decision-making in Hollywood. Making “Equity,” they agreed, was one small way to even the gender field.

And yet, far from being about women who are ethical and stereotypically “well behaved,” the characters who populate “Equity” often act as abhorrently as Gordon Gekko and Bud Fox of “Wall Street” infamy. Miss Gunn especially has several scenes wherein the audience may cringe at her actions.

Later in the film’s running time, Miss Gunn’s Naomi suffers a betrayal of such magnitude that it is almost difficult to watch. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Miss Gunn’s performance is solid throughout, and she and Miss Reiner and Miss Thomas have scenes of thorough intensity — all of it modulated through Ms. Menon’s careful directorial hand.

Competition, backstabbing and ambition are no longer just a boys’ club. If nothing else, “Equity” evens the playing ground on the rougher edges of human behavior.

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