The cutthroat workplace of Wall Street is the focus of Meera Menon’s drama, with a special emphasis on three women working there. Naomi (Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn) is a top-level investment banker; her specialty is rounding up investors for tech IPOs, and she’s still stinging from the poor performance of her last one. Her assistant, Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas), feels put upon by Naomi, and chafes at the lack of recognition. Meanwhile, Naomi has been contacted by an old college pal, Samantha (Alysia Reiner), now a prosecutor investigating illegal trading at Naomi’s firm.
As a Wall Street thriller, it’s fairly standard stuff, and the plot snaps together too neatly to generate any useful muckraking outrage. Its freshness comes from presenting women in roles typically occupied by alpha males. The women have to put up with the standard headaches that come in this high-stress, high-performance environment, but with the added complications of their gender. There is the suggestion that the women have less room to fail, and less opportunity to be promoted. They’re expected to not make gender a part of their jobs (one woman struggles to hide a pregnancy that she knows will slow her ladder climb) and encouraged to use it (i.e., if being flirty helps close a deal, go for it).
So points awarded for a female-centric film, with talent in front of and behind the camera; Equity was written by Amy Fox, as well as Thomas and Reiner. The women dominate the action, it is their lives and work (and the intersection thereof) that is forefronted — let the men be plot devices! A level playing field means women get to be the same d-bags as men in the pursuit of money and power, and to employ micro-thin advantages (including immoral behavior) to gain an edge. It’s not right — but while these are not inspirational heroines, they are refreshing in a way.