Arbitrage – A Movie Review by Andrew Lawrence
How much money do we need? Do you want to be the richest guy in the cemetery?
In Arbitrage, Richard Gere plays a successful business man from New York, who seems to have everything under control. Hes a rich and loving father, a husband and a humanitarian; everything required to be considered a successful human being by most standards. However, as our movie gets going, it becomes apparent that this success is just a facade. Underneath a neat and well organised surface, Robert Millers life is full of lies, fraud and deceit, and when he eventually makes a gruesome mistake,
it suddenly seems very likely that this tainted part of his life is going to be revealed. Miller knows that hell loose everything and go to jail if his secrets were to be found out, and he therefore does everything in his power to contain the situation and protect the people he cares about.
Right off the bat, the most important part of Arbitrage, the one that had to be done right in order for it to be a success, is the element of having a secret that only the main character and the audience knows about. If the audience doesnt feel connected to the character and if it doesnt care about whether or not he gets caught, the wole premise of the story falls flat. The TV show Dexter got this element right,at leastin the first four seasons, and Arbitrage luckily does as well. Just like Michael C. Halls character from Dexter, Robert Miller is a criminal that by all rights should go to jail, but the way hes portrayed makes you wish that he wont. Geres acting and his very well written monologue made me care about the character, so much so that I though of him as the good guy of Tim Roth as the bad, even though it actually was the other way around. Arbitrage hit the nail on the anti hero element perfectly, and had it not, the movie would not have been nearly as good as it.
Also, after having watched this movie, I couldnt help wonderingwho the guy that decides which performances are worthy of being nominated for awards such as theoscarsand the golden globes is, and how much he gets paid. Everyone whos seen it will agree that Richard Gere did a fantastic job in Arbitrage, and most will also agree that he should have been nominated for both of thepreviously mentioned awards.Richard Geres efforts are not the only great thing about this movie though, let alone the only great performance, but he undoubtedly did bring the movie to a level that it wouldnt have reached without him. Even though the entire cast did great in general, Tim Roths and Nate Parkers performances stood out to me, especially Roths. I have a weakness for this guy and the way he always seems to make his characters seem a bit quirky and a bit off, and his performance as the sleazy and opinionated cop wholl do anything to catch his man adds a lot of good stuff to this movie.
When watching Arbitrage for the first time, its important to keep in mind that its a business based thriller about lies and deception, and thus most of the action is in the dialogue. The movie almost feels indi-noirish, which definitely is a good thing in my opinion, but the truth is that a lot of people are gonna be bored from the lack of explosions and hot babes in bikinis that this film suffers from. My guess is that this is why the movie never saw a huge release anywhere in the world, which is a damn shame, because it truly is a very effective and riveting thriller that a huge audience would have enjoyed, if they had just the had the chance.
One of the reasons why I enjoyed most parts of Arbitrage as much as I did and think that a lot of other people would as well, is the fact that its an easy movie to watch and enjoy. Yes, it does throw some convoluted businessman/lawyer-lingo around a few times, but as a whole, its a fairly short and straight to the point movie that youre able to sit down and watch without having to invest yourself too much in the story. Seeing as my personal favourite movies tend to be deep, dark, mysterious and sometimes even existentialistic dramas such as Fight Club, Magnolia and The Shining, I was kind of taken aback when I realised how much I actually was enjoying this movies simplicity.To be honest though, I actually dont think that being easy to digest and fairlystraightto the point was the directors and the writersultimatevision for this movie.
What I mean by this is that there are a few things that happen during the movie that hints towards a bigger and more grand message about society, corporations, money, greed and power, and most of the time I wasnt really sure where this was going. This subplot felt a little underdeveloped in my opinion, and it was only in the very end that the director went all in on this idea. Normally I dont mind at all when a movie waits until the last few minutes before dropping its big message and ending it at that, but in the case of Arbitrage, it felt as though the ending tried to be something that the rest of the movie was not. It went from being a simple story about a businessman with a dark side who tries to cover up his tracks, into trying to say something clever about society and whats wrong with it. No matter how gorgeously this last scene is filmed and presented, it didnt fit the tone of the rest of the movie.
In the end, I will say that Arbitrage is a very entertaining and easy to watch movie that will keep most audiencesentertained and engrossed from start to finish. Apart from the amazing acting, the movie did everything it tried to do just fine. Its nothing amazing or completely original or anything like that, but its good enough for me to wanna recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good thriller. Most people are not gonna notice the few flaws that I think the movie does have, and even if you do, youll still have a good time watching Richard Gere look better at 60 than 99 % of other men do at 30. If thats not seal of approval worthy, I dont know what is. (4/6)
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