The word on Arbitrage before the screening was that Richard Gere gives an Oscar-worthy performance in it, and that much was true. While the beginning and middle portions of the movie were a little slow, the story soon picks up and draws you in, regardless of its slow start.
Robert Miller (Gere) has it all: a loving wife, children and grandchildren, a huge mansion in Manhattan. What we don’t know at first, however, is that he is trying to sell his company because the company is deeply in debt. He’s fudged the papers so that this is covered up, but his daughter (Brit Marling) eventually finds out. He’s having an affair with a French artist, Julie (Laetitia Casta) even though his wife (Susan Sarandon) still loves him, and he pays for Julie’s apartment, which is connected to her gallery. One night after he is very tired, he gets into a car accident, and this sets off a chain of events that will shape the rest of the movie.
Gere is indeed fantastic in this role, and I could see him getting an Oscar nomination for it. He’s part of the 1%, and he plays his character with poise and cunning; he knows what he’s doing is wrong, but he argues that he’s doing it for the greater good. He’s never had to be accountable for anything in his life before, and he doesn’t intend to start repenting now. Sarandon has an interesting role as his wife in the film, though unfortunately she’s only sprinkled throughout the movie; Brit Marling, as his daughter, gets more screen time than she does. Nate Parker (Red Tails) also stars as Jimmy, a Harlem kid who Gere’s character relies on heavily and then feels indebted to, rightly so.
Yes, see this film. I would have given it 3 out of 5 stars, but Gere’s performance bumps it up another half-star for me. According to Wikipedia, the word “arbitrage” means “the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance.” The imbalance here is that because Gere’s character is so rich – or at least thought of as rich – he can get himself out of any situation, and the movie shows exactly how far his wealthiness and reputation will take him. There was some humor woven in between the serious scenes as well; in one scene, Jimmy tells Gere that he and his girlfriend bought an Applebee’s in Virginia, and Gere blithely asks: “What’s an Applebee’s?” Arbitrage will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good story, and it has a few twists and turns along the way as well.
Arbitrage is in theaters today, September 14th, and is rated R with a runtime of 100 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.
Liz is a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature, and she loves going to the movies. She is the owner and writer of a film website, Yes/No Films, which was started in January 2010, and she also is a guest movie reviewer for several other web sites. Liz writes book reviews for blogher.com and on her own book blog. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her @yesnofilms.