Equinox (1992)


USA. 1992.


Director/Screenplay – Alan Rudolph, Producer – David Blocker, Photography – Elliot Davis, Visual Effects Supervisor – Randall Balsmeyer, Split Screen Opticals – Film Effects, Production Design – Steven Legler. Production Company – SC Entertainment International


Matthew Modine (Henry Petosa/Freddy Ace/Count Immanuel), Lara Flynn Boyle (Beverly Franks), Marisa Tomei (Rosie Rivers), Kevin J. O’Connor (Russell Franks), Tyra Ferrell (Sonya Kirk), Tate Donovan (Richie Nunn), M. Emmet Walsh (Pete Petosa), Fred Ward (Mr Paris), Gailard Sartain (Virgil Dandridge), Lori Singer (Sharon Ace), Tony Genaro (Eddie Gutierrez), Angel Aviles (Anna Gutierrez)


Henry Petosa becomes involved with and drawn into the lives of Rosie Rivers, a prostitute, and Beverly Franks, an excessively shy girl, who both live in his apartment building. Henry is unaware that he has a twin Freddy Ace from whom he was separated at birth. Freddy works as a driver to mobster Mr Paris. Freddy’s increased good fortune with Mr Paris becomes endangered by his good friend Richie’s increasingly violent and unstable behaviour.

Equinox is a sequel of sorts to director Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind (1986) – it uses the same modern film noir, vaguely futuristic city setting that has some genre reviewers rushing to review it as science-fiction. However, as with Trouble in Mind, any science-fictional content is so minimal that the film could easily be taking place in a contemporary setting. In fact, Equinox has even less science-fiction content than Trouble in Mind – only a group of people huddled around a street fire in vaguely futuristic looking all-enveloping bodysuits with plastic visors. In both films, Alan Rudolph sees this ‘future’ as a mythically floating film noir setting.

The trouble with Alan Rudolph’s duo films when contrasted to film noir is that noir cities must reflect the inner mood of its characters – this is usually what the hard-boiled voice-over serves to do. However, in both of these films, Alan Rudolph’s characters remain frustratingly opaque. One feels that the mood and background should signify something – in film noir, it is the desolation or the passions of the characters or a corruption about the world that the detective comes to uncover – but for Alan Rudolph it is just an elaborate and empty cinematic game. The characters lives’ seem to centre around trivialities, there seems nothing inside them that is writ large against the city.

Equinox is probably a better and less cold film than Trouble in Mind was. Matthew Modine is certainly a more animated hero than Kris Kristofferson was in the first film, he especially good when playing the Freddy Ace side. Other characters remain frustratingly closed off, notably Lara Flynn Boyle as the unduly timid neighbour. Some of the supporting characters come off better – Fred Ward has considerable fun as the aggressive crime boss, a thug in a suit who watches stock reports that come overlayed against porn videos. Marisa Tomei is also good in her role as the intellectually challenged whore who steamrolls over Matthew Modine to get what she wants.

Alan Rudolph’s other films of genre interest are:– the obscure Premonition (1972) about students who take a drug that creates precognitive visions; the gory psycho film Barn of the Naked Dead/Terror Circus/Nightmare Circus (1973), Endangered Species (1982) about the cattle mutilation phenomenon, the appealing afterlife romance Made in Heaven (1987) and the Kurt Vonnegut adaptation Breakfast of Champions (1999).

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