Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: R13
Silas (Nicholas Hoult) and Nia (Kristen Stewart) live in a dystopian society where emotions, physical contact and relationship are prohibited and treated as a dysfunction. But for these two, the attraction transcends the oppressive culture. Do they sacrifice their safety to give in to their emotions or do they fight for their freedom to choose love? More importantly, can society exist on plain rules and policies alone?
There is nothing new in the film, plot-wise. We have seen and heard the same issues in films like Gattaca. Symbolisms are thrown here and there but not explored deep enough. The screenplay is quite simple and predictable. However, the movie excels in its production design and artistry. The clinical cleanness of the scenes brings iciness to match its theme. The setting provides a perfect contrast to the burning passion Silas and Nia have to bury. And these alone provide the tension to make the ordinary love story interesting. Kristen and Hoult have good onscreen chemistry and enough charm to make the audience root for their happy ending.
Society is hypocritical when on the one hand it tells you emotions and relationship are intrinsic to human survival but on the other hand expect you to use your head and be very objective in decisions to succeed in a capitalist world. In Arts and in marketing, emotions are emphasized but in business and politics they are tossed aside. Equals seems to be a commentary on this dichotomy with a clear annotation that it is impossible for human beings to live without emotions to express themselves. Because this is a love story, it will be inclined to stress how human emotions will take over systems. And because it is targeted for young adults and teenagers, it sends the message that human beings are expected to defy heaven and earth for the sake of love. And then we end up with rebellious, confused, self-absorbed youngsters who think they are saving the world when they are in the embrace of their beloved. While we believe emotions are necessary for a person’s holistic growth, emotions do not necessarily supersede systems and rules. There should be a balance that comes with moral ascendancy and discernment. The movie is clean and safe but delivers simplified messages that are easily misconstrued but younger minds.