<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling.
Yes Richard Gere is good in it. No it’s not a performance-of-a-lifetime. Arbitrage is a standard formula film that just has some real performances and not too much over-the-top drama you’d expect if say Mel Gibson were in the film instead.
ar·bi·trage: The simultaneous buying and selling of securities, currency, or commodities in different markets or in derivative forms in order to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset.
Yes it’s a film title that most people will simply conjecture a meaning for it. It speaks of the financial dealings of protagonist Robert Miller (Richard Gere) and his billion-dollar empire. He is living the life most only imagine, but on his birthday surrounded by his family including wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) he proclaims all the money doesn’t mean a thing, it’s family that really counts. He then proceeds to his mistress’s (ex model and actor Laetitia Casta) house only to be nagged by her. Women I tell you. She has a handsome billionaire and she’s still not happy. And why on earth would he have a nagging mistress? Then you might as well just stick with the wife! In fact, she seems oodles nicer. Well, at least at first.
The mistress isn’t the only secret Robert is keeping. His financial dealings have not been very kosher. Fraud and a stalled buyout of his company mean he is in dire straits. And to add to the dilemma he has a car accident that kills his mistress but he simply walks away from the scene and then follows a relatively simple and lackluster cover up of the events.
As his world starts coming undone, Robert forges ahead with an undefeated attitude, even telling his daughter and CIO of his company Brooke Miller (Brit Marling) that she is simply an employee of his, there to do his bidding. Unfortunately, he can’t really push around Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) who immediately suspects Robert Miller and is out to get him no matter what.
What Richard Gere achieves with this performance is kind of interesting. Because as much as he is a heartless monster in many ways, he alternates between that and a nice guy trying to protect his family and his reputation. A part of you wants him to get caught and pay for his misdeeds but then you’re not always quite sure. Grey areas abound in this drama, but you can’t help but feel you’ve seen it all before.
Also, the editing isn’t that great. I noticed two blunders: once when he locks a door from the inside but then when he leaves he doesn’t unlock it and it opens and next when he’s by his bead holding a landline and the next shot shows it down on the receiver.
So it’s not really unique or spellbinding. Perhaps it is only Gere’s performance as the charming manipulator that makes this film worth a watch.