Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Equals Movie Poster Image
Dystopian romance ponders love; some passionate scenes.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Love will prevail, even when you attempt to thwart it. Love, selflessness, compassion, and desire are necessary parts of humanity, even if they make us act unpredictably.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though the Collective controls people, there are still individuals who subvert the system with their feelings. This underground network of switched-on folks helps Silas and Nia out of kindness and selflessness. Silas and Nia love each other enough to risk imprisonment -- and possibly death -- to be together.


Guards take "sick" people into custody by force. Those who can't be cured are expected to kill themselves or allow themselves to be euthanized. Two different "extras" commit suicide: One jumps off a building and is shown leaving a bloody stain on the courtyard, and another asphyxiates herself.


A couple exchanges charged looks and meaningful small touches that eventually leads to embracing, kissing, and intimate love scenes that include them in bed kissing and obviously naked or in the shower, but nudity is limited to bare shoulders, backs, and legs. The couple has unprotected sex.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Equals is a dystopian romance featuring popular actors Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart. Set in a future in which emotions and love have been eradicated, the story follows two young adults who can suddenly feel. Although there are love scenes that show bodies pressed close together, none are particularly graphic; nudity is limited to bare shoulders, backs, and legs, even when the couple is shown showering together and apart. They also embrace and kiss each other passionately. There's no drinking/smoking or strong language, but there are a few disturbing scenes: A couple of dead bodies (both the result of suicide) are briefly visible, a couple is dragged off by guards, and a man is about to jump off a building but stops.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKassi S. May 25, 2017


As a fan of the futuristic movies it's depressing to say that this movie definitely had some flaws in its plot line. From the description of the movie it r... Continue reading
Adult Written byvanapa9 July 25, 2016


The FUTURE thinks it best to eliminate emotions. Future world thinks that a more perfect existence for SOCIETY, requires a fully controlled and self restrained... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old July 15, 2016

Intense, interesting dystopian drama is very entertaining and visually dazzling but is very racy.

This brilliant, entertaining dystopian romance drama takes place in a futuristic world in which humans have learned many things that we do not know now (i.e how... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byyallachabibi June 3, 2020

Cinematic Genius.

This movie was ingeniously put together. The movie takes place in a society where humans feel no emotion and their sole purpose in life is to search and discove... Continue reading

What's the story?

EQUALS takes place in a dystopian future in which humans have explored the distant reaches of space, cured both cancer and the common cold, and learned to live utterly without emotions -- including love (and, as an extension, physical intimacy). The governing "Collective" expects citizens to turn in anyone who starts to couple off or express feelings: They're considered sick with "Switched-On Syndrome" (SOS), which -- like cancer -- is treated in stages, with Stage Four leading to forced rehabilitation or euthanasia. Illustrator Silas (Nicholas Hoult) starts to show signs of "switching on" after someone in his office building commits suicide; he notices that his coworker, Nia (Kristen Stewart), is subtly affected in a way their other colleagues are not. After Silas is formally diagnosed with Stage One SOS, he finds himself drawn more and more to Nia, who is in fact "hiding" her own ability to feel everything from loneliness to desire. They begin a forbidden relationship with the understanding that, if caught, they'll be punished or even killed.

Is it any good?

This predictable love-will-prevail romance benefits from attractive, expressive leads. Both Hoult (Warm Bodies) and Stewart (Twilight Saga) are YA-adaptation veterans who are skilled at evoking the nuanced and overwhelming feeling of falling in love; they couldn't be better suited to playing outlier humans who feel despite that being considered a sickness in their slick, emotion-free society. Stewart is skilled at expertly conveying much in even the smallest of gestures, whether it’s her signature hair touch or the slightest squint of the eyes. She and Hoult make it look completely believable that all it takes in an utterly repressed world is a few charged, longing looks and breathless caresses in a bathroom stall for two people to fall recklessly in love with each other.

As in Like Crazy, director Drake Doremus continues to ponder the mysteries of love -- and, in this case, whether it’s indeed a sickness so overwhelming that it's worth risking your life to protect. Propelled by the appealing leads and memorable cinematography (the exterior shots are particularly fascinating, and the interior shots favor close-ups of Hoult and Stewart as they reach and look and touch) Equals -- which is reminiscent of futuristic films like Gattaca, as well as young-adult stories like The Giver and Delirium -- is a bit too quiet to merit a real fandom but still sweet enough to be enjoyed by those who favor indie romances.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of dystopian stories like Equals. What do you think makes futuristic romances so compelling to audiences? What does Equals have in common with other movies in this genre? How is it different?

  • How is the central romantic relationship portrayed? Is it a strong relationship? Why or why not?

  • What are the consequences of the protagonists having unprotected sex? Is what happened believable?

  • Are there any role models in the movie? What do they do that is brave, selfless, and/or helpful?

  • The movie has some upsetting/intense scenes. Do you consider them violent? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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