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As stiff and rigid as two equals signs, “Equals” is a bland sci-fi romance that is as dull as its scrubbed-clean visual aesthetic.

Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart star as Silas and Nia, who are deeply attracted to one another despite being residents of a future society where human contact and emotion of any kind are strictly banned. The film’s conceit: If sex is outlawed, only outlaws will have sex.

After discovering and acknowledging their mutual affection for one another, Silas and Nia sneak around like two lovestruck teenagers, and director Drake Doremus (whose 2011 film “Like Crazy” was much better at dealing with issues of desire and its consequences) shoots their silhouetted love scenes like outtakes from Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis’ tryst from “Top Gun.”

They’re trying to avoid being found out, which will lead to them being tossed in the Defective Emotional Neuropathy Facility, which is sort of a reassignment center for people with feelings.

But it’s tough to feel for characters who have been robbed of their emotions. Everything in “Equals” is blank faced and feelings-free, and when things start going the “Romeo and Juliet” route, it’s hard to muster up much more than a shoulder shrug.

What “Equals” does have in its favor is an elegant visual sensibility and an imaginative eye for design. Characters’ apartments are bare cubes where kitchen units retract into the wall when not in use and beds are hidden away until it’s time to sleep. “Equals” may not have much insight into the human condition, but it would make a great show on HGTV.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

Twitter: @grahamorama

‘Equals’

GRADE: C-

Rated PG-13 for thematic content, sensuality, partial nudity and disturbing images

Running time: 101 minutes

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