- Sony Pictures Classics
I just watched “Equity,” the highly anticipated Wall Street movie that came to theaters on Friday, and I really enjoyed it.
The movie was compelling: There was ambition. There was greed. There was white-collar crime.
It was also the most realistic Wall Street movie I’ve ever seen. The story follows a senior banker staging a comeback after a botched IPO by fighting to take the next big Silicon Valley startup public.
“Equity” provides a real look into the lives of investment bankers, and why their careers involve so much work and travel – but, perhaps more notably, it’s a refreshing change of pace after eight years of Wall Street movies about the financial crisis.
It’s so entertaining you almost forget another remarkable detail about the film: The movie was written, directed, produced, and starred in by women.
“Equity” passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors – that is, the rule created in 1985 by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel that requires movies to have at least two women who speak to each other and specifically not speak about a man.
But the movie is not an overtly feminist statement. It’s not a story about women fighting to break the glass ceiling or getting overlooked because of their sex. Really, “Equity” just feels like a good Wall Street movie in which the main characters happen to be women.
For one thing, the female characters are multidimensional. You feel for the vice president who hides her pregnancy so as not to inhibit a potential promotion, and you feel betrayed when you realize she’s also capable of doing bad. The money-driven senior banker who sometimes treats her subordinates badly is more than just a bossy woman; she is conflicted, and she’s actually trying to do the right thing.
In other words, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine men in each of these roles, rather than women. And that’s kind of refreshing too.
I often write about women on Wall Street, and I generally hear a similar story: Women tend to work harder than men, but have to fight twice as hard to get ahead. We think hard work is the key to success, when really we should be focusing more on networking, like men do.
So I was expecting more of the same message when I watched “Equity.” That I didn’t get that message was a pleasant surprise. Instead, I got to watch a fun movie about some dynamic Wall Streeters taking a tech unicorn public.
To be sure, some challenges the bankers face are undoubtedly due to their gender. The main character, Naomi Bishop, for example, is told she rubs people the wrong way, a description that’s typically used more often for women than for men. But, ultimately, the reason she has to fight so hard when she’s up for promotion is because of a previous business transaction gone wrong – a hurdle that could just as easily apply to a man.
I’m telling everyone I know to go see “Equity” this weekend – not just because it’s important to see strong women in positions of power, regardless of how seamlessly that goal is accomplished. You can go see “Equity” for that reason, or you can go simply because it’s a great movie.