Romeo and Juliet in a sterile sci-fi dystopian world? This is how Drake Doremus’ “Equals” has been described in some circles, albeit maybe a bit glibly. Still, Doremus, the excellent indie filmmaker behind “Breathe In,” and “Like Crazy,” has a deep affinity for making woozy romance pictures, and so “Equals” intrigues. Plus there’s the cast that stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, plus Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver, and also features Kate Lyn Sheil and Toby Huss.
“Equals” premiered in Venice to mixed reviews, including ours, but tastemaking studio A24 bought the film last year and they have a good track record of buying misunderstood pictures like “The Rover” (though maybe not the greatest example because that film tanked at the box-office, but it’s really good!). We digress. Here’s the synopsis that was released in Venice last year:
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?
A clip from the film was released during Venice and in the director’s statement Doremus asked a simple, but interesting rhetorical question. “What would happen if we lived in a world in which love does not exist anymore?” The answer to that is coming further to light with the release of the film’s first U.S. trailer.
While there’s no release date for the film yet, A24 acquired the film for North America last year and the movie’s Facebook page says the film will arrive sometime this summer. Check out the new poster and watch the new trailer below.