Romeo and Juliet may be the most adapted tale of forbidden love, but it has never been done as well as it is in Equals. Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult deliver the best performances of their careers in this incredibly passionate tale of love in a society where emotions have been eliminated.
Hoult stars as Silas, a young man living in a society where emotions have been eliminated. There’s no contact between people, and daily routines run like clockwork because there’s no reason to wish for something different. When Silas has a nightmare, a strange occurrence that stirs up emotions, he finds out that he has switched on syndrome (SOS). Considered a disease and death sentence, SOS is a four stage process where individuals begin experiencing emotion again. There’s no cure except death, so Silas must prepare for the worst.
As he’s dealing with his diagnosis, he begins to notice Nia (Stewart), a woman he starts having feelings for. She also seems to act a little different than those around her, and Silas soon learns that Nia is a ‘hider.’ She’s got SOS as well, but has managed to keep it secret. With their situations revealed, they begin a love affair that society disagrees with, and one that could have them both shipped off to the hospital where SOS sufferers are encouraged to kill themselves before their emotions cause them to lose control.
After watching Equals, I was immediately convinced of what a fantastic film it was. It wasn’t until I sat down to write a review for the movie, revisiting it in my mind, that I realized just how incredible the film actually is.
It’s the most passionate love story I’ve seen in years, cutting immediately to your soul, and it’s all done with minimal amounts of typical love scenes. In the world of Equals, people simply don’t touch each other. There’s no need to because they feel no emotions, so when Silas and Nia realize that they’re both experiencing emotions, they begin to meet in the bathroom to talk openly. It’s here where they first touch each other. They hold hands and eventually embrace, but it’s the most sensual and erotic love scene put to film. The intensity of the moment is palpable and will take your breath away.
It’s an amazing set of performances from Stewart and Hoult, but that’s just one piece of this fantastic puzzle. Director Drake Doremus, who also supplies the story for screenwriter Nathan Parker, has created a world that is almost too believable. Right from the start, we can see that this is not a society that will accept emotions. There’s no possible way that Silas and Nia will be able to stand up and reveal their feelings, trying to convince people that feeling emotion is the right thing to do. That gives the film an overwhelming sense of tension around their relationship, as well as sadness because whether the couple can find happiness, it will always be something that will have to remain secret.
This is also the first time that a stark white, clean environment makes sense in a sci-fi film. The fact that everybody is in white suits, living in white apartments, and functioning with the minimum amount of items makes sense. There’s no emotion, so there’s no need to worry about the style of your clothes, or the things you do in your free time. People spend their time doing jobs that advances intelligence or provides sustenance for society. There’s no reason for anything else. It’s a sad life for viewers to watch, but also a somewhat intelligent choice. Things run smoothly because there’s no emotion to cloud judgements.
The greatest success is definitely Silas and Nia’s relationship. It’s powerful, passionate, and incredibly beautiful. You can feel the passion as if it’s threatening to burst out of the film, and you’ll be swept up into their relationship, desperately hoping that everything can work out for them even though it seems impossible.
Is Equals Worth Watching?
An absolute must see film. Easily one of the greatest love stories ever told on film and certainly some of the best performances from Stewart and Hoult.