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Arbitrage is one of the rarest thrillers around today a morality tale that propels its gripping story through poor character choices and the ensuing aftermath rather than left-field twists and pointless action. The complexity of the characters on display in director Nicolas Jareckis feature debut (and the fine actors who bring them to life) are fascinating to behold and deliciously infuriating in the way that the script forces you to rationalize on their behalf, even when they perpetrate some of the worst crimes imaginable.
The plot of Arbitrage is at its core very basic, but from that seemingly simplistic foundation springs forth a disastrous series of errors of near Shakespearian proportion, ultimately avoidable as they all turn out to be. We first meet with hedge fund manager Robert Miller as he hounds his subordinate to track down the CEO of a rival corporation for a final authorizing signature that will conclude the sale of his firm. Unbeknownst to everyone but him and his accountant, Miller has committed fraud and cooked the books to hide a disastrous investment in a Russian copper operation. Through this sale he can more than cover his losses and retire a multi-millionaire, but after another mistake (this time on a far more personal level) his transgressions at work pale in comparison.
It is through Geres remarkable performance that we come to sympathize with a man who is not only a liar and a fraud that uses those he loves and dispose of those he needs without a second thought, but who also descends into something far worse: a murderer (at least in the eyes of the law). However, we can see deep down he loves his family, will right all financial wrongs with the sale of his business without anyone being hurt and mostly had non-malicious intentions when fleeing the scene of his crime. We become so caught up in this characters predicament and the world in which he thrives is so equally callous and ugly he comes off as part saint despite being everything an average person despises he is the one percent and essentially rides above the law.
Having given up his mantle of A-list leading man some time ago, Gere, instead of rushing headfirst into subpar roles that would keep him somewhat in the spotlight, has become a superb actor in his own right choosing interesting projects from The Hoax to The Hunting Party. His performance in Arbitrage is perhaps his best work ever, exuding charisma, spewing malice and emanating explosive energy at the perfect junctures. Jareckis script and Geres work is the perfect marriage of actor and material.
The supporting cast is equally superb. Susan Sarandon does a great deal with limited screen time as Roberts wife, as does Brit Marling as his daughter and unofficial partner at the firm. Tim Roth does his evil thing without missing a beat as a determined and justice-blurring cop (though his accent slips a few times) and relative unknown Nate Parker as a past connection of Roberts who plays an pivotal (and emotionally potent) role in the deception does scene-stealing work.
Conjointly as is the case with ludicrous revelations and senseless violence, in most thrillers a last-act imposition occurs, stripping any good will that may have been awarded and leaving nothing but a sour taste. Arbitrage has a perfect perfect ending and is immediately preceded with two fascinating examinations of character in both Millers wife and the buyer of his firm. The overarching theme amongst these catharses is that money rules all, but the execution and timing of both comes off as nothing close to hollow.
It is easy to fathom certain viewers being bored or put off by the deliberate pacing and stylistic choices Arbitrage makes, but that is no fault of this tense and involving film but rather of the spoiled, ADD generation that cant make it through 100 minutes of cinema without multiple shootouts, riveting as it all is. As the antidote to bland Hollywood white-knuckle escapism, Arbitrage is the sublime archetype, substantive and lasting and proving that smarts and dedicated performers can drive a compelling narrative.
Im a sucker for a good adultery thriller, just like the classic ones from the 80s, and this one doesnt disappoint. The premise here is pretty familiar: rich New York tycoon is having an affair with a younger woman, he has business troubles and then his dalliance goes horribly wrong at the worst possible time. The plot, especially, the corporate shenanigans, can stretch credibility, but the film is sufficiently well written that the holes in the storyline dont really get in the way.
What distinguishes Arbitrage is the superb acting. Susan Sarandon is, as always, right in character as the society wife who knows more than you think, but in the end has her own set of priorities. Britt Marling plays the daughter who aspires to build her own career only to be forced to confront disillusionment in the real world and make some tough choices. Richard Gere, as Robert Miller, is the epitome of a Wall Street master of the universe whose finely balanced life is on the verge of collapse. Much has been written about the psychology of self-destruction that leads someone in power (almost invariably male) to risk so much for so little. Gere captures that mindset beautifully. Nate Parker is the black kid, whose father has a history with the family, and whom Miller shamelessly embroils in the mess that he has created. Parker gives a great performance. Finally, Tim Roth is outstanding as the NYPD detective who is sick and tired of the big Wall Street guys escaping justice and is desperate to nail Gere – too desperate as it turns out.
Arbitrage is slick, American filmmaking that delivers on what it promises. No more, but no less.
Greetings again from the darkness. Most of us dont tread in the world of corporate greed, deceit and fraud that defines the now four years ago financial crisis. Twenty five years ago Gordon Gekko in Wall Street put a face to corporate greed. Writer/Director Nicholas Jarecki now gives us Robert Miller, as portrayed by Richard Gere, for the face of Wall Street fraud … the step beyond greed that Bernie Madoff made famous. Toss in a Chappaquiddick-type tragedy and its abundantly clear that Robert Miller is no modern day saint.
No matter how much we would prefer it to be otherwise, there is something to the charisma and emotional power of the few who seize control as politicians, CEOs and cult leaders … all subjects of recent films. During this film, we never once doubt that Geres Miller is a scam artist with power. He is not a good guy, despite his warm smile as he says all the right things to his family and close circle of advisors. We are sickened that he is able to fool so many. Yet, the reason this story is so familiar is that it rings so true.
Watching Millers house of cards slowly crumble is both fascinating and nerve-racking. We arent rooting for him, but we still get caught up in his web of deceit. His demented sense of responsibilities guide him down the path of betrayal … a path that stomps on his all-knowing wife, his ultra-trusting daughter, his sensitive mistress, and a young guy just trying to get his life in order.
The supporting cast is strong led by Susan Sarandon as the wife, Brit Marling (Another Earth) as the daughter, and Tim Roth as the crusty NY Detective trying to catch the big fish. However, this is Geres film and he delivers his best in years. Its also great to see Stuart Margolin, who was so entertaining as Angel in The Rockford Files back in the 70s. Another interesting casting choice has long time Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter as the head of the financial institution looking to purchase Millers company.
Again, the individual pieces of the story are all quite familiar, but filmmaker Jarecki does a nice job of assembling the pieces in a manner that keep us engaged. Its a nice example of how the rules are different for the rich, and show how the worst of them even think they can get away with murder! (
Gere Maximizes His Coolish Screen Persona in a Machiavellian Character-Driven Thriller
It seems quite a letdown that Richard Geres impressive performance in this handsomely mounted 2012 thriller has been relegated to On Demand, but the same fate befell 2011s Margin Call, another effectively Machiavellian Wall Street-set thriller, probably because the mechanics of cutting big financial deals just doesnt feel all that cinematic despite being terrific showcases for able actors. With his trademark lan in check, he plays Robert Miller, a billionaire Wall Street investment executive whose silken imperturbable manner can charm and kill at the same time. Millers company is in the middle of a federal audit as he tries to sell it. The problem is that he has illegally borrowed more than $400 million, well beyond the true value of the company. The lender threatens to take his money back, but Miller stops at nothing to keep the fraud under wraps, his family and the IRS in the dark, and his firm functioning more or less as usual.
Miller is simply unflappable no matter what the circumstance is, whether its negotiating an unethical high financial deal, attending his 60th- birthday party, or spending a few tempestuous hours with his mistress, a French art gallery owner whose neediness makes Miller vulnerable to a moment of truth he cannot control. An unexpected event literally leaves blood on his hands, and a web of deception drops him further into an abyss. Instead of seeking absolution, Miller moves from chilly manipulation to unrepentant criminality. The evolution feels seamless because Miller never sees anything wrong with what he does, and first- time director Nicholas Jarecki does quite a capable job of maintaining the pace and momentum of an internally driven thriller that allows the main character to unravel in a series of dialogue-heavy scenes courtesy of Jareckis insightful screenplay, an excellent sophomore effort (his first was co-writing 2008s The Informers with Bret Easton Ellis).
Although he was a last-minute replacement for Al Pacino (who would have brought an earthier dimension to the role), Gere is smartly cast here because his screen persona has often provided a glacial veneer over a seething core of anger and resentment. Playing Miller allows him to do just that in a most arresting manner that makes him both morally repellent but oddly sympathetic. As the detective intent on getting Miller convicted, Tim Roth is quite effective down to the Columbo-like inquisitiveness and Jersey Shore accent. Nate Parker brings unexpected depth as the moral center of the story, a Harlem kid whom Miller previously helped out of a jam but who now faces much bigger consequences returning the favor. Indie breakout Brit Marling (Another Earth) affectingly plays Millers sharply analytical daughter, the chief accountant of his firm who slowly realizes her fathers true nature. Susan Sarandon has relatively few scenes as Millers insulated wife Ellen, but her steely intelligence comes through in the climax. Its worth seeking out.
Arbitrage CATCH IT (B+) Arbitrage is an interesting thriller New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) on the eve of his 60th birthday; he appears 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), Millers also balancing an affair with French art-dealer Julie Cote (Laetetia Casta). Just as hes 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 Millers past. Arbitrage has a very interesting concept, when you thought its only about the financial corruption, the movie takes a huge turn and we see a 60 years old man wounded juggling to control his financial status along with the crime he committed unintentionally. Richard Gere is phenomenal in Arbitrage; there isnt a moment when he surprises you with his brilliant performance. I have to say after a really long time I saw Richard Gere in a movie up to his caliber. Susan Sarandon is elegant and even though she doesnt have as many scenes as I would have wanted but still she impresses me as always. Brit Marling, the writer/director/actress of Another Earth is eloquent and stands tall in front of veterans like Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere. She was so good that I wanted to see more of her even though she was the most featured female among the cast. He NY central part scene with Richard Gere is simply amazing. I would love to see her soon in other movies. She is someone to watch out for in 2013. Laetitia Casta is gorgeous and Nate Parker did his part with utmost honesty. Even though I wanted to see the family dynamics of Robert Miller more but as its a thriller they kept the movie short to emphasizes on more important matters. I had good time watching it. Its a good thriller.
Whats your price? The question haunts Richard Geres character of Robert Miller, a vain hedge fund manager married to Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and preparing to hand down his business dynasty to his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling). That is, until a freak accident with his mistress coincides with a self-perpetrating fraud scandal. Now confronted with unprecedented stress, Miller has to fight to keep his family and business intact.
Richard Geres absence on the Oscar nomination stage for the entirety of his career will hopefully be ended with this stunning character study. Gere is in perfect form, personifying a complicated man who for once sees the results of his narcissistic actions. While his empire crumbles, his personal life goes the same way. Every scene Gere is in brings to light just how powerful an actor he is.
But an actor would be nothing without a powerful script. The author of the films screenplay is also the films director, Nicholas Jarecki, the co-author of the 2009 film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis film The Informers. In his largest film yet, Jarecki keeps with themes of arrogance that comes with power. The script moves at a brisk pace, keeping your attention and leaving you nearly breathless once youve reached the conclusion.
Cinematography and setting blend easily into the background of these characters actions. New York City is brought to live, as she has countless times before, as the epicenter and culmination of the good and the bad. But what sets the screen apart from any other NYC-set film is the fact that nothing seems to be done to make NYC any more like NYC. The films version of the city is exactly how it is in real life.
Susan Sarandon, still as beautiful as ever, steals her scenes as Millers powerful wife. As does Brit Marling and especially Nate Parker, newcomers full of promise. The sole weak spot is, surprisingly, the performance of Tim Roth, the detective. His character starts the film with a Brooklyn-type accent. In his second scene Roth seems to attain his native Cockney accent, then lose it as the film progresses. He ends with a bizarre jumble of both.
Arbitrage is an intelligent, engaging thriller about the depths of bad decisions made from the arrogance of power. It is a must-see of the 2012 film season.
Arbitrage is the first motion picture by New York University graduate Nicolas Jarecki. It tells a story of magnate who almost fails in selling his own trading empire. But before that, he rules a huge family consisting of wife (Susan Sarandon), a son – who seems to be very unimportant person, so that director tells almost nothing about him and a daughter Brooke – skillful professional in business and probably the only person whos able to catch up with fathers mistakes. Robert also deals with young, passionate lover Julie.
But everything goes wrong when Julie dies in car accident when Robert was driving and Brooke finds his father in fraudulence.
Now Robert Miller has to struggle against two people: detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) and his own daughter and none of them is going to step back.
I am not going to tell how well Geres character manages this but I can definitely tell you that Richard, as an actor, did a great job. Possibly its the best performance of his career. Anyone can name his memorable roles but this one is no doubt the best. He delivers an emotional, stressed and very precise acting and looks very natural which makes his work really brilliant.
But the best part of this movie is Nicolas Jarecki. Its not easy to write and direct the film at the same time, especially when it is your first time. He wrote a beautifully crafted script and transferred it professionally on the screen. The more you watch bigger the tension gets and you want to know whether it will end up in a good way. The writer has intelligently stuck surprising details throughout the story and that made whole movie more dynamic.
So, I found Arbitrage to be an attractive, smart and well produced movie and believe that it could be a perfect star for Nicolass directing or writing career.
A bit simplistic, but nevertheless a good movie
I read an interview with Richard Gere about this movie and saw that Susan Sarandon was in the same movie too and thought, This has to be a good one… It is OK, but its definitely not great. There is a lot of dramatic tension, but it seems like the script was dumbed down for the Hollywood mass market. Totally understand the rationale of the approach, but I think that, as a result, the movie fell short of being compelling.
When the English do this kind of movie, or the Europeans, what you get is dark tragic theatre. When the Americans try to do it, I think that they end up doing too much test marketing and as a result the movie suffers.
With the really serious depth of talent in the cast, you would have to think that there was much more that could have been put on the screen (and may have been on the cutting room floor for all I know).
There is one redeeming feature though. This movie does reveal a darkness, and offers a comment on the culture of today, of capitalism, of markets, of law etc… It doesnt pull any punches in that regard and that is a really good thing!
It had been a while since I had either seen Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon or Tim Roth in anything noteworthy but to my own surprise, this was being a solid thriller, with truly some great performances by its cast.
It is absolutely true that without its cast this would had been a very formulaic, standard, average, little thriller. As a matter of fact, it more feels like an extended Law & Order episode. The characters and developments arent anything surprising but the movie truly gets made interesting by its cast, who also help to make this a convincing and effective thriller.
I have never even been a too big fan of Richard Gere but he simply was absolutely great in this! He mostly carries this entire movie and he does this by playing a sort of despicable character. So its a real accomplishment by him that he still managed to turn the main character into a still likable enough one, that you never lost interest in. He doesnt make the right choices throughout the movie but thats what keeps his character interesting and helps to let the movie move along, even during its slower moments.
Its the sort of thriller in which everything starts to go from bad to worse for its main character, when his lies and actions only get him in more and deeper problems and drags those close to him down, along with him.
But really, it remains a far from perfect thriller and still does plenty of things wrong. It does a poor job at handling some of its characters for instance. For example, it heavily under uses the Susan Sarandon character, who could had given the movie a whole other dimension and some more depth with her character. After all, she plays the main characters wife, who has certain knowledge about things that dont come into play until very late into the movie, when things are already starting to wrap up. The whole dynamic between her and the Gere character had much more potential really and I thought it was a real shame this didnt get explored any further and better. Also, I would had loved to have seen more of Susan Sarandon, since she gave away a great performance.
Thats a bit of a problem with this entire movie; it just doesnt know how to handle and what to do with certain characters. The Tim Roth character also definitely feels a bit underused. When he shows up you think he is going to play a big and important role for this movie but in fact there are large portions of the movie in which his character plays no role at all. I absolutely loved his scene with Richard Gere and I was hoping for more moments like that, which unfortunately just never came.
I still really enjoyed this thriller and at times was even loving it. Its definitely a better than average genre attempt, despite still having a very standard and familiar type of premise and story in it. So in essence, nothing surprising but its all still very well made and acted out by its impressive cast, which already is worth the price alone.
A movie where the hero is also the movies main villain and who better than Richared Gere to play the role!
ARBITRAGE: Three Stars (Out of Five)
A movie where the hero is also the movies main villain and who better than Richared Gere to play the role. The film tells the story of a billionaire businessman (Gere) who is attempting to sell his company, while covering up its massive losses, as well as avoid going to prison for vehicular manslaughter. Its another film that tries to present a vile human being as a relatable person. It co-stars Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth and Brit Marling and was written and directed by first time feature filmmaker Nicholas Jarecki. The movie is aptly directed and well cast but it deals with such immoral behavior by its central character that its hard to like.
Gere plays Robert Miller, a hedge fund manager who lost his company huge sums of money on a big deal gone sour and is now trying to cover it up and sell the company before anyone know its true value. Hes married with two kids (that work for him at his company) but he also has a mistress, named Julie (Laetitia Casta), that hes constantly trying to please as well. When Julie is killed in a car accident, with him at the wheel, he flees the scene and involves an unwitting friend, Jimmy (Nate Parker), in covering up his involvement. A police detective (Roth) is on to him and threatens to send Jimmy to prison for over a decade if he doesnt cooperate. At the same time his daughter (Marling) is on to his business crimes and Robert has to deal with her as well.
The movie is an interesting crime film; it does definitely keep your attention. Its also very dark and cynical but thats not the problem I had with it. I dont mind movies that focus on bad people as long as theyre portrayed that way but here it seems like the movie is still trying to send us the message that Miller is still a good guy. Credit definitely has to be given to Geres performance because he does play the conflicted character well and he does make him seem almost relatable. We all justify and rationalize our actions in our own minds and I guess this movie does a good job of showing how Miller is still able to sleep at night. Still the things he does in the film are despicable and I cant give a completely positive review to something that almost seems to encourage immoral behavior. Its definitely well made and involving though.
The enjoyable thriller Arbitrage seems to promise a Margin-Call-like reminder of the dangerous Madoff-like gambling and ponziing in stock trading. It is much less than that, but in its own way it draws you in to a world of high finance where this time the people affected play a much larger part than computers and manipulative moguls.
Arbitrage is all about family and allegiances and the flawed decisions made partly on their behalf. Robert Miller (Richard Gere, a fortunate replacement for Al Pacino) has borrowed over $400 million for his company and must give it back at the awkward time of negotiating the companys sale, which depends on that money to be a part of the companys value. Negotiating for that sale is the most fun and maybe most original part of an otherwise clichd script, where most of the action can be foreseen.
Few actors can carry the silver-tongued, silver fox better these days than Gere, whose toned body and outrageously full hair complement the slippery billionaire who is always minutes away from financial ruin and family disintegration.
While that tension is formulaic, writer/director Nicholas Jarecki does a couple of plot twists that are not predictable, therefore defending the film against derivative charges (pun intended). Plus, the first-rate supporting cast of Susan Sarandon (Millers wife), Brit Marling (his daughter), and Tim Roth (the nosey detective) give enough pleasure to keep Arbitrage from being a retread of Wall-Street type films.
The subplot of Millers affair with young artist Julie (Laetetia Costa) is distractingly hackneyed except as a metaphoric reminder of how he plays on the edge of jeopardizing business and family. That affair and his business bad habits form a composite of a hundred doomed big shots who think they can fool very smart wives and savvy business associates, much less canny detectives. Ask Bernie Madoff.
Bad premise and weak script but flawless execution
This is perhaps Geres best performance and his surrounding cast performed superbly. However, there are some serious problem with the story that constantly distracted me from engaging with the actors. 1. Falling asleep while driving is not a criminal offense. A DA would have to prove gross negligence or intent to get an indictment. Therefore, the charges hanging over his head were implausible. 2. The accident occurred long after they had driven out of the city. NYPD would not have jurisdiction over the investigation. 3. Even if Geres character had committed an intentional homicide, the guy he called to pick him up would be under no threat of criminal indictment unless he knowingly aided a criminal. He had no knowledge of the accident at all until approached by the police. Overall, the cast and suspense made up for the script weakness. I just wish the writer had consulted with someone in criminal law. They could have really helped create a suspenseful dilemma.
Arbitrage did a decent job of setting up the characters, and progressing through all the scenarios, until the end when it leaves you feel like youve been left hanging. I get it, the reasons why everyone did what they did, and said what they said (i.e. wife, new owner, daughter, etc.) but the movie somehow left me with a feeling of incompleteness. I wouldve rather the cop had barged into the awards dinner, with all his peers there. and placed handcuffs on the main character, placing him under arrest as he stood at the podium. accepting his award. Sure, it couldve left us wondering what evidence was uncovered, or manufactured, but if Im going to be left hanging, Id rather be left hanging there. Some of the things he was involved in and overcame, were plausible, but as a whole, not so much. If you like far fetched plots, you will enjoy watching Arbitrage, at least until the last few minutes of the movie, which is anti climactic. Surely, were not suppose to believe he signed the legal document his wife sprung on him, essentially submitting to her blackmail. After all the things he was previously able to wiggle out of, he couldnt somehow wiggle out of that? Or, maybe we are expected to believe it was his wife who he succumbed to, in the end. In that case, he would not, could not, be the all powerful which the movie attempts to personify. Obviously, the writers wanted him to somehow be cut down, but I wouldve preferred the handcuff disgrace, rather than what we are expected to believe his wife had accomplished. Maybe his being arrested wouldve given the perception that he didnt sign it, and to the contrary, he wasnt arrested, so we can assume he did sign it. I guess we can assume his wife didnt know that he had taken care of both of their children, in the deal. Im not sure just what we are expected to assume. When Sarandon was kissed on the forehead by Gere as he stood up to accept his award, her expression was all we were given, and it gave little indication of who capitulated. All Im saying is to be prepared for a let down. Sorry, but this movie was incomplete for me. Too bad, because the acting wasnt bad.
Nobody does pretend billionaire as well as Gere
Nobody does make believe billionaire as well as Richard Gere, something about the way he carries himself encourages audiences to believe he really is that rich, powerful and connected.
Robert Miller is a hedge fund magnate with it all, money, beautiful wife (Sarandon) who dabbles in charity work and a son and daughter (Marling) who both work for him, to differing levels of competency.
Miller has decided to sell his firm to a financial company desperate to plug a gap in their suite of services and products. Talking of gaps, Miller is desperately trying to pape