Depending on who you ask, the most dangerous people on the planet right now are the 1% in control of the trillions and billions of dollars that belong to other people.  Thats largely a political belief, and whether you agree will have a lot to do with how far you are to the left in the political landscape.

But even those for free-market principles would have to agree that the power held by these figures can be concerning.  So what happens if one of these financial giants messes up?

Thats the question that runsArbitrage, about Robert Miller (Richard Gere) a CEO of giant hedge fund organization who drops the ball.  Miller has been celebrated for his foresight in the market but, at the top of the world, he decides its time to sell his company and retire to his gorgeous Manhattan home centered around a chandelier so opulent, it drops to the floor in the center stairwell.

Hes done very well for himself, but it doesnt take much of a shake to see Millers king-of-the-world lifestyle start to rattle and drop, affecting his company, his wife, his friends and even his children.

is the kind of movie that Hollywood is afraid of greenlighting but that they need desperately smart thrillers about smart adults that doesnt compromise its intelligence to appeal to the surging middle-school demographic.  It doesnt need a Bikini scene or a second banana to crack jokes; instead its fine with being a fascinating kerfluffle that is fully engrossing as Millers problem is further exposed.  After the film takes hold, it doesnt let go until its last shot cuts to black.

Arbitrageis written and directed by first-time fictional feature writer/directorNicholas Jarecki, who at 33 years old is making filmmaking look frustratingly easy.  His script effortlessly divides its time between the storylines of Miller and a large cast of supporting characters played by a skilled bunch that includesBrit MarlingandNate Parker.  (The only false note isTim Roth, playing a New York detective that would fit better in a pulpy episode ofLaw & Order).

What the screenplay does best is present a protagonist that is neither deserving nor entirely undeserving of our sympathies.  Geres appropriately light presence allows the morally ambiguous character to come upfront and center for your judgement what hes done isnt reprehensible, but can we defend his actions?  Even with all the shades of grey in his past, you cant help but root for him as he tries to climb his way out of his problems.

As Robert Miller goes from problem to problem, one tense conversation follows another to the point that you cant believe he hasnt already collapsed under the stress of his own words.

Arbitrage, on the other hand, is an airtight thriller of the economic titans that avoids becoming preachy or sentimental.  It knows better than to get bogged down in any kind of politcal message.  Instead, it focuses on character and story to be the best thriller it can be.

Ian T. McFarland reviews movies and music forScene-StealersDadsbigplanLostinReviews, and has been called the stud of his generation (by somebody somewhere, surely).

Tagged as:2012Brit Marlingfinancialnate parkerNicholas JareckiRichard Geretim rothwall street

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