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TIFF Report: Equals

Who’s in it: A little-known star called Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult, and Guy Pearce, who reteams with Doremus after starring in the director’s previous film, Breathe In.

Who’s behind it: Director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) and writer Nathan Parker (Moon)

Who’ll love it: Fans of dystopian YA movies who can’t believe it’s taken this long for Kristen Stewart to star in one.

What it’s about: Ah, utopia! A place where poverty, hunger, violence, and crime have all been eliminated—along with every human emotion (like greed, anger, and fear) that could possibly cause any of these social ills. Gone, too, is love (can’t risk a crime of passion) and so an emotionally edited human race can now exist in a state of constant calm. But even utopia has its glitches. When a virus-like outbreak of feelings hits a fraction of the populace, the infected are rounded up and mysteriously dealt with. Stewart and Hoult play a pair of feelers whose feely feelings sneak up on them—and then each other. And since love can make you insane in even the most emotionally permissive of societies, things get pretty crazy for Hoult and Stewart’s star-crossed pair.

Why you should see it: Equals manages to bring something unique to the already crowded YA dystopian genre. There are no rebel factions plotting to stage a coup on the capital. There are no epic fight scenes. It doesn’t seem like anyone in the cast would even know a crossbow from a halberd. Stewart and Hoult don’t want justice for oppressed feelers, they just want to be together. And so the film is slower in pace and calmer in tone than your average Hunger Games/Maze Runner/Divergent flick. What Doremus does best are love stories and Equals is more romance than science fiction, it just happens to have some cool futuristic elements to it (the clothes, the workstations, the insta-dinners) that the director uses to tell a familiar story in a fresh way.

When you can see it: Equals had its North American premiere on Monday at TIFF. The second screening is Saturday September 19 at 3pm at the Ryerson theatre.

Watch the trailer here and check out the poster below.