Drake Doremus’s new movie begins terribly. It starts in the most anonymous world, in a future in which men are forced to be all the identical and drugged in order not to feel anything, in which we see awful characters played with no quality by Kristen Stewart and Nicolas Hoult. All of this is enough to make the movie sink; but, in addition, there’s a naïve and banal plot, that copies the sci-fi repertory we have already seen, without even trying to reach the necessary depth. Copied badly and with no ideas.
And yet, during the two hours of this apparently hopeless movie, the film shows its sense, very slowly and with a coherence that, in the end, pays off. The terrible Romeo and Juliet of a future filled with the most abused sides of Orwell’s 1984, starts to have feelings because they’re made for each other. Too much. They love each other so much that their love overcomes even the drugs they ingest. So much that they meet secretly even though they have nothing to do together, because they’ve been taught not to have physical contacts (illegal, in that future). There’s a whole world that controls them and don’t want them to be together, but they can’t be separated.
But this naive and candid idea of exaggerated love, which is not a deep feeling but an unknown and shallow attraction (they talk very rarely, they’re just made for each other, as if it was inborn), can explain what we’re not used to see in preteen love. The more you see, the more you have the feeling that the story of these two characters stages a teen love, because even for them it’s the beginning of a world full of intense feelings that they perceive as even more intense, since they’ve never known them. In this sense, the naivety of the whole situation and also the way in which feelings are shown and lived is extremely vital: the shyness of the first contacts and the clumsiness with which they look for pleasure are real. It’s hard for and adult to like it, but this authorial movie has some purely teen qualities that, once accepted, make it lovable.
Even Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, who clearly don’t stand out for their abilities in acting, create an unusual chemistry. The two work together, especially when they don’t talk but react in exaggerated ways to the difficulties that this world creates against them and their love. For this reason, Equals is similar to Romeo and Juliet’s situation (even staying far from it and its complexity), because it is founded on the youth and exaggerated idea of the feelings, of being forced to face morality and authority to confirm an irrepressible passion.
By Gabriele Niola
Translation: Bianca Baroni
Photos: Alessio Costantino
In collaboration with Badtaste.it