Think of the sub-genre of thrillers and dramas that take place on Wall Street and the faces that come to mind—Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, even Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman—have something in common: by and large, they all belong to men. As the star of Equity, Anna Gunn strides onto an otherwise homogeneous list as Naomi Bishop, an ambitious investment banker with an unapologetic thirst for green.
Gunn is no stranger to playing prickly characters; her turn as Skyler White on the AMC drama Breaking Bad was met with such hostility that the actress penned a New York Times op-ed examining the special kind of vitriol reserved for unlikable women on-screen. As Naomi, the extent to which her superiors reward her success and her clients trust her strategy correlates to her willingness to play politely in the sandbox, a trait she’s not particularly interested in adding to her repertoire.
But Equity, which premiered at Sundance and comes from director Meera Menon and screenwriter Amy Fox, also examines the interplay between women rising in the ranks of Wall Street, as exhibited in the exclusive clip above. Naomi’s eyes barely leave her screen as her hardworking assistant Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas, who also co-produced) asks for a promotion she’s clearly getting used to being denied.
Naomi’s quest for the next headline-grabbing IPO and Erin’s desire to rise in the ranks are complicated by the arrival on the scene of an old acquaintance of Naomi’s, a prosecutor (played by Orange Is the New Black‘s Alysia Reiner, also a producer of Equity) sniffing around for evidence of the corruption she believes to exist just millimeters beneath the surface of Naomi and Erin’s latest deal.
Equity, which hits theaters July 29, is consciously gender-specific: it comes from a female director, writer and producers and explores the very real sexism that stymies the ascent of female investment bankers. But it also asks to be seen as a Wall-Street thriller that just happens to have more Jimmy Choos than Prada wingtips, a compelling drama about thwarted ambition and wounded pride and betrayals of trust—experiences, in other words, which don’t discriminate on the basis of sex.
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