Movie Review: Arbitrage (2012)

Director: Nicholas Jarecki

Rated: R

Running Time: 107 minutes

 

Cast:

Richard Gere as Robert Miller

Susan Sarandon as Ellen Miller

Brit Marling as Brooke Miller

Tim Roth as Detective Michael Bryer

Laetitia Casta as Julie Cote

Nate Parker as Jimmy Grant

 According to Investopedia, the definition of arbitrage is:

 The simultaneous purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from a difference in the price. It is a trade that profits by exploiting price differences of identical or similar financial instruments, on different markets or in different forms. Arbitrage exists as a result of market inefficiencies; it provides a mechanism to ensure prices do not deviate substantially from fair value for long periods of time.

When I first sat down to watch Arbitrage, the latest film starring Richard Gere, I thought I would be watching something similar the the Wall Street movies or a story loosely based on Bernie Madoff, but I was happy to find that this movie is something else entirely. The story centers around Robert Miller, a hedge fund magnate in the process of selling his company. Due to an error of judgment, he finds himself $400 million in the red. In order to complete the sale of the company, he turns to a friend to temporarily "plug the hole" until the papers can be signed. At the same time, his company is undergoing an audit which must be complete prior to the sale. Unfortunately, his friend is becoming impatient and wants to reclaim his money.

 At the same time, Robert celebrates his 60th birthday surrounding by a loving family in a beautiful home. He makes a sentimental speech about the importance of family. But even early on, we see cracks in this perfect facade. There are subtleties that suggest he is not quite the devoted father, husband or grandfather that he appears. For example, when he comes home for the party, he is greeted at the door by his manservant who surreptitiously hands him small gifts for his grandchildren although it appears that he is the one who bought them. Another crack appears when he explains to his daughter, Brooke, that the reason he wants to sell the company is to spend time with his family, to which she replies "And do what?" indicating that he has never been very present in their lives. Brooke works for his company as the Chief Financial Officer and is highly driven and intelligent. His son also works for him, but appears to be somewhat of a disappointment to his father.

 Not long after his emotional speech to his family, he leaves the house to supposedly go back to the office. Instead, he arrives at the beautiful apartment of his mistress, Julie, a painter that he clearly supports. She is french, sexy, and passionate. But she is also tired of being the other woman and wants more from the relationship.

 Up to this point in the film, it all seems familiar and predictable. A powerful man who has a lot of secrets finds that his life begins to unravel. And that part is true, but this film is so much more. I want to be careful, because this is the type of film that you don't want to spoil. I am rarely shocked by a film, but this one shocked me. There are twists and turns that I never saw coming. And the acting is superb. Richard Gere gives one of the best performances of his career. He is at once loving, cold, calculating, scared, and smug. He is quite believable as a man who wants it all and intends to have it no matter who has to suffer. But a person can only keep the wolves at bay for so long, and soon his psyche begins to unravel.

 Susan Sarandon is as beautiful and compelling as I've ever seen her. She is an attentive mother, wife, and philanthropist. But she is not the usual vapid character that we so often in films married to powerful men. She is a person in her own right.

 Brit Marling shines as the daughter. She oozes intelligence and integrity, and she is spot on in her portrayal of an ambitious young woman on Wall Street. We will definitely be seeing more from this actress.

 Tim Roth gives a strong performance as the police detective. He is restrained, but shows so much emotion just with this facial expressions. I've always been a fan, so I really enjoyed his screen time which wasn't very much, sadly.

 But the breakout performance of the film was by Nate Parker as Jimmy, a young man whose late father was an employee of Robert Miller. We're never quite sure what his father did for Miller, but it's pretty evident that he was a close confidante and trusted associate. The kind of person you would help clean up a messy situation. Parker gives such a raw performance as Jimmy that we forget he's acting. I looked him up on IMDb and he's been in a lot of movies, including The Secret Life of Bees, but this role may bring him to the attention of the world as one of the finest young actors around.

 I strongly recommend watching Arbitrage. It is currently in theaters or you can watch it at home through iTunes. Get a bowl of popcorn, turn off the phone, and settle in for the ride of your life!

 Thanks for stopping by and getting buzzed!!

 

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