Part telenovela, part B Hollywood camp, part Jekyll and Hyde, ‘Arbitrage’ is one of the great surprises of the year. Just like ‘The Grey’ earlier on, ‘Arbitrage’ is one satisfying guilty pleasure you just can’t get enough out of. What unfolds in this sinful motion picture are moments of corruption, murder, infidelity, betrayal, greed, deceit and duplicity. Making it even more intriguing and absolutely engrossing is the acting, led by Richard Gere and a veteran adept cast, that makes every moment just juicier.
Before we get to the detailed synopsis, it is important to tell you what the title of the film means. ‘Arbitrage’ is an economic term that means 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. In other words, the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets.
Now that you know that, this summary will make a lot more sense. The feature-directing debut of writer Nicholas Jarecki, revolves around New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) who on the eve of his 60th birthday, appears to be the very portrait of success in American business and family life. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed. Struggling to conceal his duplicity from loyal wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and brilliant daughter and heir-apparent Brooke (Brit Marling), Miller’s also balancing an affair with French art-dealer Julie Cote (Laetetia Casta). Just as he’s about to unload his troubled empire, an unexpected bloody error forces him to juggle family, business, and crime with the aid of Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), a face from Miller’s past. One wrong turn ignites the suspicions of NYPD Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth), who will stop at nothing in his pursuits. Running on borrowed time, Miller is forced to confront the limits of even his own moral duplicity. Will he make it out before the bubble bursts?
It is hard to find a movie today where all the elements are working in unison. The story here is thrilling, gripping, engaging, and fun. The acting is really icing on the cake. The direction is serviceable and manages to bring everything together seamlessly.
Richard Gere for the most part is and has been what Liam Neeson and Nicolas Cage are now – a B actor who does B movies, but not every B movie is bad, just watch most of Jason Statham’s movies to understand that. He is so good here. You love him and you hate him. So which one do you choose to like? He digs deep into his acting arsenal to give us one hell of a memorable performance. His role of Miller is that of a man who lives a double life with moral issues at the end of it. Susan Sarandon also is compelling as his savvy and victimized wife.
But we can’t forget the story. The same way a telenovela from Telemundo has it’s constant twists and turns, Arbitrage offers that and more. The film is never boring and the ride is enjoyable. This movie has the kind of story that keeos you guessing whether Gere will get caught or not or whether he’ll win or lose. However, don’t be fooled. The movie is never given the opportunity to rise above the level of a guilty pleasure B movie. Go have a blast.