Here we have what would have become of Zack Mayo had he not caught a clue during flight school. As you might imagine, it ain’t pretty.
But Richard Gere? Way pretty. (So to speak.) He’s at the top of his game, as he was then, drawing from that same character portrayal and showing us the same dangerously appealing opportunist, this time in full flower and operation as Robert Miller, accomplished financier in just a bit of a pinch. But it’s okay, just a day and favor, and all will be well.
Arbitrage in the financial world is “the purchase of currencies, securities, or commodities in one market for immediate resale in others in order to profit from unequal prices.” *
And that is what our Robert Miller has done, with aplomb and great success resulting in quite the empire: every material luxury, a mutually beneficial marital arrangement, devoted children carrying on the family business (one qualified, the other just lucky), and a throng of lively grandchildren cavorting about his birthday celebration.
From which he’s distracted and doubleminded, as per usual, and thus begins the slow march revelation of the distinction between intrepidness and entitlement ~ and the string of dead bodies (literal or figurative, take your pick) in the wake of the latter, wherein the definition turns dark, becoming instead the subsuming of another’s trust, freedom, or welfare for one’s immediate leverage in order to profit from unequal power.
Push comes to shove, and we get to see what people are really made of, with a gentle invitation to engage the mirror.
Enter the equally superb Tim Roth, police detective come a’calling and a sumptuous blend of Bobby Goren and Lt. Columbo (and likely a Qualifying Role). Other supporting performances excel, highlighted by Susan Sarandon as Robert’s entitled spouse and Brit Marling as his intrepid daughter and heir apparent (if there’s anything left to inherit, that is…). Would so love to have seen Carey Lowell in Sarandon’s role ~ she would have actualized it perfectly and it would have been lotsa fun, but Sarandon left no gap of any kind (I’m liking her much better these past few years and have a theory on that, subject for another day…).
Around the time Zack was under the gentle tutelage of Sgt. Foley, "Working Girl"’s intrepid Tess McGill was receiving a referral to a fellow in the arbitrage department, a loathsome hack played by the soon-to-become-venerable Kevin Spacey. Tess asked him, “So, what are the qualities of a good arbitrager?” and in short order got one answer to that question.
She chose to step out of vehicle. Will Robert? Those who enjoy the privilege of his standing? Those trying to hold him accountable without resorting to his methods? …You or I?
I’ve heard more than once "Arbitrage" being called two stories in one, and that may be accurate if one takes them at face value. But writer/director Nicholas Jarecki’s thriller-meets-morality-tale offers so much more. "Arbitrage"’s power comes from realizing that they’re not two stories, they’re two results. Two results of the hubris that comes from crossing that line between intrepidness and entitlement. Two results of failing to catch the clue. Pray for those in their orbit if Robert doesn’t catch it even yet before we’re through.
A fellow screener said after, “It reminds you that Richard Gere was a movie star.” So imprinted was I by "An Officer and a Gentleman" lo these many years ago that the observation took me by surprise, but the point once considered is taken, if perhaps not granted (ouch). But with "Arbitrage" we’re back in the rarefied air of "Officer", "Pretty Woman", and "Unfaithful".
Well done all.
Story: A fat cat financier finds himself overextended by his machinations and manipulations.
Genre: Thriller, Drama
Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker, Stuart Margolin, William Friedkin (uncredited)
Directed by: Nicholas Jarecki
Running time: 100 minutes
Houston release date: Sep 14 2012
Tickets: Check Fandango or your local listings
Screened Jul 30th at the Edwards Grand Palace in Houston TX