ARBITRAGE (director/writer: Nicholas Jarecki; cinematographer: Yorick Le Saux; editor: Douglas Crise; music: Cliff Martinez; cast: Richard Gere (Robert Miller), Susan Sarandon (Ellen Miller), Tim Roth (Detective Michael Bryer), Brit Marling (Brooke Miller), Laetitia Casta (Julie Cote), Nate Parker (Jimmy Grant), Graydon Carter (James Mayfield), Stuart Margolin (Syd Felder), Larry Pine (Jeffrey Greenberg), Reg E. Cathey (Earl Monroe), Tibor Feldman (Judge Rittenband); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Laura Bickford/Kevin Turen/Justin Nappi/Robert Salerno; Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions; 2012)
“A well-cast Richard Gere is terrific as shady hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A well-cast Richard Gere is terrific as shady hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller, someone whose expertise is in lying to others as well as to himself. Gere’s the slick fraudulent smooth talking billionaire arbitrage player (buying low and selling high) in this topical Wall Street thriller by the first time feature film director, the twenty-something Nicholas Jarecki (“The Outsider”). It covers already familiar financial cinema territory (most recently Margin Call), but does it well. Money is the evil temptation that rocks Miller’s boat, as he celebrates his 60th birthday as a great American success story but behind the walls of his financial empire things are coming apart for his family and business unless he can get away with fraud, deceit and a cover-up.
Miller has made a bad deal over a Russian copper mine investment, where his considerable investment of over 400 million dollars are frozen by the Russians. The distraught businessman sees his only hope is in unloading his trading empire to a major bank and to complete the sale he must cook the books to hide the company’s great loss in assets. Running on a panic mode, Miller must deceive his wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon), his chief financial officer daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), his French artist mistress Julie (Laetitia Casta), the trader for the bank Mayfield (Graydon Carter), his employees and the federal authorities who audit his books. Things are tense but manageable until he falls asleep at the wheel late at night and his car flips over on the deserted highway killing his passenger Julie. Fearing the scandal will end the sale of his company, the only slightly hurt Miller frees himself from the car and calls on a public phone Harlem resident Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), the son of his deceased loyal chauffeur, to give him a ride home as he wishes to cover his tracks. Hard-nosed detective Bryer (Tim Roth) investigates and tries to nail Miller as the fleeing driver through Jimmy, as he’s suspicious of Miller and hopes to nail the rich bastard.
As the son of two commodities traders, Jarecki has a high IQ on Wall Street dealings. This film is accurate on its facts and resonates with Chabrol-like suspense to make it both an entertaining and atmospheric Wall Street film, one that covers the day’s disturbing events and forces its bad-boy protagonist to ask himself what money can’t buy him that matters. The film’s failing is that it refuses to go deeper than surface to cover the greed syndrome in Wall Street, as the handsome Gere, though presented as a skunk, still comes across looking too good to give the pursuit of greed and corruption the black eye it merits.
REVIEWED ON 10/8/2012 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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