I’m not often incited to picket the production of movies, nor the casting choices made therein, but I would gladly have my hands ravaged by signpost splinters and feet blistered from pacing should it mean that Drake Doremus’ upcoming film Equals takes a long walk off of a short pier into a lake of piranhas and solar flares. You see, the movie is going to be a wonky reworking of George Orwell’s seminal classic Nineteen Eighty-Four that will focus more on the novel’s love story, without all that subtext about what makes human connection so important. How do I know there won’t be any subtext? Because the film will star Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart in the leading role, along with Warm Bodies‘ Nicholas Hoult, an actor I have nothing against but who does not exactly exude the qualities that made Winston Smith such a strong character.
Okay, so if I may take a step back and correct myself, this will actually be an updated version of Michael Anderson’s 1956 film 1984, which was itself a loose adaptation of Orwell’s book. This is like trying to make Kool-Aid by using the wrapper instead of the actual powder. The film is written by Nathan Parker, who wrote Duncan Jones’ excellent debut Moon, so there’s the light in this total shitstorm.
But let me not just sit here complaining about the film’s existence itself, as Stewart hung herself out to dry in a recent interview with ABC News. She seems to be trying her damnedest to look as unequipped as possible to portray the illegal love interest Julia, throwing Doremus under the Bad Idea Bus in the process. Let’s hear it from the actress herself.
“I can’t believe I agreed to do it,” Stewart said. “I’m terrified of it. Though it’s a movie with a really basic concept, it’s overtly ambitious.” I can’t imagine how watered-down the script has to be in order to turn Orwell’s original story into a “really basic concept.” Did someone fail to mention that this is actually an animated movie involving talking dinosaurs?
I trust Drake’s process and I know we will do something really natural and real. But I told Drake, ‘Don’t expect that I am going to be able to do this. It’s too hard.’ But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’ve given directors disclaimers before, but never this much.
Most directors would have listened to this and blazed a trail to another more suitable actress, yet Doremus decided to stick with Stewart. Seriously, it has to be harder for audiences to accept this than it will be for Stewart to act in this “most devastating story” where “things go wrong because you can’t deny the humanity in everyone.”
Doremus, who last directed the 2013 drama Breathe In, says the film is about “love in a world where love really doesn’t exist anymore.” That’s the closest reading of the original text that they brought up. No mentions of Big Brother or doublespeak or Oceania. Of course, the central ideas behind Orwell’s words aren’t necessarily all about Big Brother, but given how relevant that aspect of the story is at this point, I cannot believe they would ignore it altogether. Whatever.
We’re more excited to watch Hoult opposite Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road, and we’ll just pretend Equals doesn’t exist for as long as possible.