Kristen Stewart’s close bond with Nicholas Hoult

15 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult Strike Up an Intense Romance in Equals.

As veterans of former tabloid-ready young Hollywood relationships, Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult presumably know a few things about having to keep love under wraps.Kristen Stewart has been making the rounds to plenty of film festivals lately: Sundance for “Camp X-Ray,” Cannes for “Clouds of Sils Maria,” Toronto for the Alzheimer’s drama “Still Alice.” And that was just In 2014.

Which might be one of the reasons the two make such an easy, genuine match in Equals, the new dystopian love story from Like Crazy director Drake Doremus. On Sunday, she rode back to Toronto for yet her latest fest offering: the dystopian romantic drama “Equals,” directed by indie darling Drake Doremus and co-starring Nicholas Hoult.

You may hear “dystopian love story” and think Hunger Games and Divergent (or even Hoult’s own Warm Bodies), but Equals is far smaller and more intimate than that, less focused on this bleak society than just that these two crazy kids make it work. Appearing thin in a leather jacket and an abundance of rings in a lounge space surrounded by foosball and rod hockey, Stewart waved aside the idea that she had embarked on a new chapter after five “Twilight Saga” films, the last of which came out in 2012. “It looks from the outside that I had a really commercial career and then started doing more cinematic pieces,” she said, several hours before “Equals” was to make its North American premiere here. “But if you look at my career, typically, it’s been made up of more indie films that end up at festivals.

In this community known as the Collective, emotions have been suppressed through genetic tinkering, and anyone who notices a sudden onset of feelings is diagnosed with “Switched-On Syndrome” and given medication; if the feelings don’t abate, they’re encouraged to kill themselves. Silas (Hoult) has gone the traditional route and seeks treatment for his sudden emotions, but then notices co-worker Nia (Stewart) isn’t keeping up a placid exterior, either. Still, the millennial super-celeb acknowledged that “Twilight” had ballooned in a way that gave her more than her fill of a certain genre, and made the last few years a welcome respite. “I didn’t have my eye on the prize in terms of needing to convince people I could do work that is difficult and not easily digestible,” she said. “But I am pleased with the effect [the past few films have] had.

The swift, intense romance the two fall into is like most young love, thinking you’re the only people on earth feeling these things, except in Nia and Silas’s case it’s actually true. The scenes of sex and romance are the film’s consistent highlights, with Doremus bringing the same no-holds-barred intensity as in his Sundance-winning Like Crazy, and Stewart and Hoult throwing themselves fully into Silas and Nia’s desperate connection. Even when the specifics of this futuristic society don’t hold up—for an all-knowing totalitarian government, they sure don’t catch on to a very obvious romance right under their noses—the love story feels very real. Stewart’s loyal Twilight fans ought to be happy to see her in another earnest romance, while anyone burned out by the high-stakes dramatics of Divergent might be relieved by a futuristic story that gets back to basis.

The film, which has several U.S. distributors after its Venice premiere last week, is set in a genetically engineered future in which love and desire have been bred out of humanity — indeed, they’re outlawed, stigmatized as part of what’s called “Switched-On Syndrome.” And the movie relies on the same forbidden-love conceit that made Bella and Edward irresistible to so many. Equals and its recycled dystopian ideas may feel like nothing new, but that’s not a problem for the romance at its center, as old-fashioned as Romeo and Juliet and nearly as satisfying. Stewart’s Nia and Hoult’s Silas work side-by-side in one of many hyper-efficient design and lab modules of this world, until one day they discover they have stirrings, both in general and for each other. As directed by Doremus (more on the filmmaker, who was responsible for Sundance and Toronto breakout “Like Crazy,” later in the week), the picture follows the rules of indie films rather than commercial Hollywood.

Stewart’s performance, though not entirely dissimilar to Bella in its stoicism-gives-way-to-passion vibe, has more texture and depth than her “Twilight” work; her tendency toward a kind of performance restraint plays well in the poker-faced world Doremus has created, but also makes the rewards that much greater when expressiveness finally does creep in. Aesthetically, “Equals” is also a world away from “Twilight,” with an ethereal score and a bright, spare look courtesy of cinematographer John Guleserian. (It won’t go unnoticed by some that the film is the spiritual obverse of another Toronto pic, Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Lobster,” which takes place in a world in which being single is forbidden.) Most significant is “Equals’ ” interest in big ideas, including the notion that this grand future-canvas is actually a more intimate metaphor for our own feelings after a failed relationship. You go through a … breakup and you say you wish you never did it,” Stewart said, not specifying her own much-publicized romantic life, perhaps not needing to. “Then, of course, you do it all over again. And pain is closely tied to pleasure, anyway; it’s everything that makes me feel alive.” Stewart has become more self-assured in interviews, even if her words can get ahead of her thoughts. She is currently living in New York, shooting Woody Allen’s latest — a match, given the filmmaker’s interest in emerging talent, that seems as natural as Bella and vampires.

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