Today in the city of Empire, an elderly homeless woman collapsed on the street and died, clutching a letter she had owned for decades. Although she was taken to the morgue, nobody was much interested in her there apart from attendant Sonya Kirk (Tyra Ferrell) who was intrigued by the envelope and liberated it from the identification attached to the body bag, thinking that if she could solve the mystery of its contents, she might kickstart her career as a writer, and more importantly secure financial profit from her good deed...
Equinox saw writer and director Alan Rudolph going back to a more experimental form, with a story set in the near future and a collection of enigmas which passed for that plot. Too often in the course of the telling it was apparent he had too much on his plate for one movie, or at least one viewing of that movie for anyone to take in, yet whether many could be bothered persevering with what he had brought to the table was a moot point when the answer was probably very few would. And even then, if you did manage to work out what all these disparate threads amounted to, you might not be half as satisfied by the solution to Rudolph's puzzle as the author had wished.
He did secure a very good cast to bring this to life, though too often they were playing "types", almost caricatures, rather than characters who came across as actual, living, breathing people, something that fit the fable-like quality of the material, but proved far too inscrutable in the long run, especially when Rudolph never quite reached the cosmic nature of what he was aiming for, not until the excellent, haunting final shot at any rate. The dichotomies it pondered over, stuff like the difference or balance between good and evil, rich and poor, seriousness and levity, made for more of a great big muddle than a chiming truth about the very existence we lead, but that was not to say there were no rewards.
For many, Rudolph would be navel-gazing here in the least enticing fashion imaginable with his restless camerawork and the way scenes switched their approaches yet still had the same, overriding woozy effect. The main characters were twins played by Matthew Modine, one a meek and frustrated mechanic called Henry, the other a nasty piece of work gangster who drives around a big shot (Fred Ward) yet has designs on the top of the criminal tree. They are completely unaware of one another, having been separated at a young age and brought up in isolation and somehow, in spite of living in the same city all this time have never met as adults, a state of affairs Sonya begins to piece together as her skills as a researcher and writer improve all the while.
Henry wants to start a relationship with his brassy next door neighbour Rosie (Marisa Tomei), but she is married to an abusive criminal who would not be happy to know they're getting friendly, and besides he has another love problem in his best friend's sister Beverly (Lara Flynn Boyle), a woman as uptight as he is, perhaps even more, who wants to allow him into her arms but is resistant at the same time. Meanwhile Freddy is married to Sharon (Lori Singer), who adores him and has given him twin daughters, but he's such a tough guy he has little time for anything but making his way up the ladder of success. Money obsesses these characters as the chance and luck involved in acquiring it - the lottery looms large - mirrors the chance and luck which has brought them to their current situation, and after a while you recognise that if they had handled their lives better all the opportunities for happiness were there for the taking: just treat people better, look after yourself, be moral, be astute... all things outwith their grasp. Music by Terphe Rypdal.