Anna Gunn, who played Skyler White for five season on Breaking Bad, gets her first big lead role in Equity, an engrossing new financial-set drama.
There has been a lot of chatter about the fact that the film was directed, written, produced and primarily stars women. Big whoop – this shouldn’t be the lede of everyone’s review or coverage of the film. Maybe Hollywood will one day catch up and realize that Gunn can play more than the embattled wife of a meth dealer because here she proves herself a formidable leading lady.
Gunn is mesmerizing as Naomi Bishop, a senior investment banker, who is in the aftermath of an IPO gone awry. Her name is plastered all over the financial sector after her efforts to take a company public didn’t go her way but Naomi has no time to dwell; she’s ready for her next project.
Naomi has sunk her teeth into a company called Cachet, a social networking site that boasts unshakable privacy above all else. Naomi is a no-nonsense kind of banker, who seems to only pitch her ideas to the company’s CEO Ed (Samuel Roukin) as a formality. She wants to do things her way and have everyone else stay out of it.
After what happened with her last IPO efforts, there is a lot of pressure on Naomi. She has an old college friend, Samantha (Alysia Reiner), who investigates securities frauds and a hungry VP, Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas), looking for a promotion for all the work she does for Naomi, all distracting her from her work. Once Naomi sets her focus, you better not get in her way.
Under the direction of Meera Menon, Equity unfolds rather straightforwardly in its web of Wall Street happenings. The central story is consistently engaging but Equity has a problem with its tangents, detouring on some side plots that never feel fully fleshed out. The script has such a strong and engaging central story but the background noise proves to be more distracting than anything else.
Gunn, who won two Emmys for her role on Breaking Bad, is the addictive constant of Equity. Her performance is so wonderfully layered and she creates a balance of razor sharp precision and vulnerability in Naomi. It’s a calling card for continuous leading roles for Gunn.
In the dog days of summer, Equity is a strongly acted drama for the adult crowd, brimming with great performances and moments of true tension. Too bad it took us this long to find something engaging to watch this summer.
7 out of 10