One of the earliest “mumblecore” directors to leave that tag behind and never look back, Drake Doremus‘ post-“Spooner” and “Douchebag” career has been spent exploring heartache in many different flavors. “Like Crazy” looked at the difficulties of long-distance relationships in young love, and “Breathe In” explored a May/December relationship between a married man and his young musical pupil. Doremus is not done with love and emotion, but for his next film he’s examining the heart through the lens of science-fiction.
His latest is the sci-fi romance “Equals,” and it’s set in a futuristic, utopian society where where inhabitants have been bred to be peaceful and emotionless. Complications arise when a man and woman fall in love in a civilization that has eradicated such notions. "Equals" stars Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart, Guy Pearce, and Jacki Weaver, and also features Kate Lyn Sheil, Toby Huss, and more.
Here’s the official synopsis:
SILAS (Hoult) lives in a future society called The Collective. The inhabitants of this modern world are a new breed of humans called Equals. Equals are peaceful, calm, fair, and polite. Life in The Collective is perfect; there is no greed, no poverty, no violence, and no emotion. The Equals go through life perfectly serene, disturbed by nothing. But a new disease is threatening everyone: SOS, or Switched-On-Syndrome, is activating in its victims everything they thought they’d escaped: depression, sensitivity, fear, love. Once a person is overtaken with SOS, they are sent away to The Den, and never seen again. Nobody says it, but everyone knows: The Den is where people go to die.When Silas is infected, he becomes an outcast, but he notices one person who seems to understand what he’s going through. NIA (Stewart) has feelings, but she seems to be able to hide them. Only Silas has noticed that she’s different. When he confronts her, they discover a connection that quickly takes over everything. They feel love and intimacy for the first time in their lives. They try to stay away from each other, because the risk of detection is too great, but the pain of being apart is even worse than the pain of living in secret. The only way for them to insure their survival is to escape. But who will help them? Where will they go? With their feelings overtaking them and their love visible to anyone they meet, how can they possibly escape undetected?
Here’s the director’s statement:
When I started this project, I began with one singular thought. What would happen if we lived in a world in which love does not exist anymore? What if the very thing that makes us the most human, we’ve evolved away from? I then began to think about what the fundamental reason for existence is.
I am always aiming to reflect on my own human experience in the most honest way possible. With this film I am, in many ways, trying to know the unknowable: can the human soul be modified? Does it change over time? Or, conversely, is it steadfast because it understands its innate desire to connect—to love and, in turn, be loved?
I longed to create a tone and a texture that simply washes over you so you can purely experience the film through a mixture of the senses; not to make the audience think as much as to make them feel. I am consistently preoccupied with the idea that we are here to try and understand this simple, yet extremely complex, experience as human beings. As people who are born with the capacity to love.
“Equals” made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will also appear at the Toronto International Film Festival next week. Our review from Venice is already in, and you can read the verdict here. The first clip has arrived, so watch below and let us know what you think.