On how Equals impresses you the more patient you are with it & the beauty of lo-fi sci-fi.
“Just remember what this feels like.”
A lo-fi sci-fi/romance that draws its strength from its central relationship. Equals makes every intimate interaction count: every look, every smile, every touch. Drake Doremus presents a sterile, soulless dystopian society, one initially so devoid of life you’d be forgiven for simply zoning out. Gradually, that anaemic white canvas begins to fracture and peel away, as feverish, raw human emotion seeps through the cracks. Its early efforts to cage any form of feeling are so effective, the gradual development of that romantic bond feels all the more rewarding.
And frustrating. Stewart and Hoult channel their inner turmoil through their expressions and body language so brilliantly. We feel their pain – and their passion. The dull, slow-burn opening fifteen minutes are a necessary evil in getting us to empathise with these characters – and indeed find the value in empathy itself. It’s not all romantic either. One of the film’s strongest scenes centres around a group therapy session, where feelings are able to flow freely for the first time in what feels like an age. It’s so relieving.
The sci-fi setting adds depth and intrigue where most of its inhabitants do not. It’s not an original dystopian scenario at all, but Doremus at least fleshes out his world with a creative form of exposition – filling in all the back story you need to know through a few beautiful illustrations. You could argue he isn’t particularly ambitious with his storytelling, but that’s what these lo-fi tales are about: crafting an expansive world to play with, and then honing in on a single, intimate tale. Long live small-scale sci-fi.
I’m well aware a lot of people hated this – and fully expected to come out feeling the same way. After Her & Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, I guess I’m just a huge sucker for sci-fi/romance stories.