Equity

 

            Have you ever been very successful at something, then suddenly come to the realization that you've lost your touch?

            Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) works for the biggest investment banking firm in the world.  She's a deal maker.  She brings the calloused investors and steers them toward the IPO date, and she shepherds the nervous entrepeneurs, and she guides her eager but inexperienced team to do the diligent research, while she still has to wheedle and cajole her boss about the promotion he's been promising her, the one that would make her the decision-maker behind the desk, and not the Nervous Nellie in the trenches, fearing a wrong twitch or one careless slip of the tongue or some unforeseen shark attack from some margin trader who would love to swoop in and make a killing, not caring who the carcass is.

            Naomi Bishop thinks she's a cougar with a younger boyfriend at her beck and call, Michael Connor (James Purefoy), but it turns out he's got friends in the investment business, too, and they love insider information.  Loose lips sink ships.

            Naomi Bishop thinks she's a high-powered executive with a competent young staff, but her main assistant, Erin Manning (Sarah Megan Thomas, who also wrote the screenplay) is unsuccessfully trying to conceal the fact that she's pregnant, because it might affect her high-powered career track perception.  Not only that, she, too, is frustrated by being put off about her big promotion, though from her point of view she's done countless thankless behind-the-scenes leg work.  She even thinks she can handle the big client who is obviously hitting on her, but sometimes a situation like that can get out of hand very quickly.

            Naomi Bishop is proud to accept speaking engagements from women's advocacy groups where she is unashamed in talking about ambition.  And liking money.  But there's an air of desperation lingering over her bravura, and the people around her are beginning to sense it.  As they did when she somehow dropped the ball on the last big deal, even though she'd had several big successes prior to that.  It's about “What have you done lately?”  And lately she's been spending a lot of time at her punching bag with the big boxing gloves.  And flirting with her younger boyfriend, which also makes her feel powerful and in control.  Little does she realize how quickly it can all come falling down.

            It's not that Naomi Bishop's instincts are eroding.  She senses immediately that an old college friend, Samantha (Alysia Reiner), who used to work drug enforcement and has now moved to white collar crime, is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and though Samantha's wiles don't work on Naomi, they do work on someone around her, and the danger is still apparent.  As it should have been to the young entrepeneur who thought he was invincible with his own employees, but he's failed to understand the undermining power of the disgrunted, particularly those who are skilled in silent passive aggression.

            Yes, Naomi Bishop's been living in a dog-eat-dog world for a while now, and has enjoyed  snarling over her share of the spoils, but there's always a badder, meaner, junkyard dog out there.  It's just that you may not find out who that is until you've been attacked from your blind side.

            This gritty corporate competition is told from the perspective of feminine characters, directed by a woman (Meera Menon), and with a script written by a woman.  The story is familiar, but the tone is unique.  The context of the world financial markets is a macro perspective, but the personal point of view is definitely micro.  It's a world where fortunes can be made or lost in an instant, and so can careers.  Just ask Naomi Bishop.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)  What investments have you made that turned out to be good ones?

2)  What investments have you made that turned out not so good?

3)  Who do you trust to tell you the truth about what a good investment might be?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association