On the surface New York hedge-fund king Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is the model of success. At sixty years old and married to Ellen (Susan Sarandon) he’s preparing to hand over his empire to his Chief Investment Manager, who also happens to be his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling). He’s so rich he doesn’t even know what an Applebees is. Cracks appear in the façade, however, when an accident involving his mistress, French art-dealer Julie Côte (Laetitia Casta), threatens to uncover the dark side of his life, including a $400 million fraud.
“Arbitrage” has already earned Richard Gere a Golden Globe nomination and may be the role that finally lands him an Oscar nod. He’s terrific as the morally ambiguous banker (is there any other kind in the movies?), a cold—so chilly you want to put a scarf on when he’s in the room—calculating but charismatic wheeler-dealer whose motives are not always immediately clear. It’s a complex performance that shows the balance Miller has over his lives as a business-person versus family man.
His two powerhouse scenes are intimate ones, there’s nothing flashy about them, they simply moments of reckoning for a man between his wife and father with daughter. They are quiet, powerful passages in a sophisticated movie about deceit and flawed characters.
It’s a twisty, turny plot kept interesting by the uniformly strong performances. Tim Roth’s Det. Michael Bryer, the street-savvy cop trying to get to the bottom of Miller’s complex web of lies, is Columbo-esque, but he manages to make it his own.
Sarandon and Marling (who has a bachelor’s in economics in real life and becomes the movie’s conscious) shine, but it is Nate Parker as the Jimmy Grant, the son of one of Miller’s friends, who almost steals the show from Gere. He’s the only character with a developed sense of right and wrong, and it almost lands him in trouble.
“Arbitrage” is an intricate, gripping crime drama populated by relatable, although not very likable, characters.
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