I was interested in getting some insight into what
was and how it related to the film, so I looked it up and found that, arbitrage loosely translates to rich, white people problems. Okay, I made that up. In all seriousness, I couldnt figure out how actual arbitrage had anything to with
Richard Gereplays Robert Miller, a hedge fund manager whos in the process of selling his company. Hes also trying to cover up a $400 million dollar loan being used to cook his books and cover for a loss until the sale goes through. I was never really quite clear on what the deal was with this $400 million, and even when it was explained later, I still wasnt. Like last yearsMargin Call, you never quite understand the financials or what theyre are talking about, but at leastMargin Callfeels like a smart movie that knew what it was talking about.Arbitragefelt like it was faking its way through it.
Miller has a lovely and supporting wife (Susan Sarandon), so naturally hes cheating on her with an emotionally-unstable artist thats half his age (Laetitia Casta). The movie sets up Miller as an unlikable asshole and never does anything to make you root for him as the movie goes on.
One night he goes for a drive with his mistress, and gets into a car wreck that kills her. He flees the scene, which was stupid because hes pretty much the only guy anyone would suspect, and contacts an old acquaintance, Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), to use as an alibi. It takes only hours before the lead police detective (Tim Roth) is questioning his role in the accident. Miller knows that if this gets out, it will kill the sale of his company, not to mention expose the $400 million hes hiding, so hes trying to deal with both cover-ups simultaneously. Its here where the movie kind of lost me. What was this movie trying to be? A financial thriller or a crime thriller? In trying to be bothsimultaneously it felt a little all over the place, and it really hurt the film. Each story could have been told separately. In fact, this felt like something that should have been on a TV series, like a season ofDamages.
As the cops get closer to nailing him, he continues to lean heavily on Jimmy to keep up the alibi. You continue to get irritated with Miller, because you realize that he picks this one guy in his world he knows wont rat on him. Even when faced with a prison term, Jimmy wont rat him out. He continues to string Jimmy along, begging him to be patient until he can take care of his business. At one point, even Jimmys girlfriend tells him to give him up, and by then I wish he had, too. Miller didnt deserve that kind of loyalty, and it was clear Jimmy was being taken advantage of.
I credit the performance of Richard Gere for being able to make Robert Miller compelling to watch even though there is no reason at all to like him. Hes doing shady business dealings, lying to everyone, cheating on his wife, and taking advantage of someone to keep his ass out of trouble. Model citizen, huh? Anyway, Gere carries the movie and its one of his better roles in recent memory.
Maybe this was the point, but the worst part of this, is despite all of this -SPOILER ALERT -theres no consequence to any of his actions, other than his wife leaving him. Youre actuallygladshe leaves him at the end. Were they trying to make a statement saying that evil, rich business men get away with cheating and murder? Theres also something the police do at the end that made me scratch my head at how ridiculous it was. Itunderminedthe movie a little bit because it gave Millers character an out he didnt deserve.
Besides Gere,Arbitragefeatures avery strong supporting cast. I always like Tim Roth, and here he plays streetwise cop that knows Miller is guilty and really wants to see him burn. Hes a little corny at times, but it seems like he had fun with the role. Im sure hes hoping hell get a chance to play a variation of his character fromLie to Me, and Id like to see that.Susan Sarandon has a great scene at the end, but shes barely in it. Then again, shes been in so much stuff lately that maybe she only had a day or two to shoot her scenes. Their daughter is played byBrit Marling, and while I really enjoyed her inAnother Earth, I felt she was very flat here. The guy the really surprised me was Nate Parker. He ends up being the only really sympathetic character in the film and showed some nice internal conflict and range.
Arbitragewas written and directed byNicholas Jarecki, and its once again another movie that suffers from not quite knowing what its identity is. It actually felt likesomethingthat could have been a adaptation of a novel, but then they couldnt figure out what to get rid of to make it all fit in a movie, so they just left everything in. He did a good job with the performances and I did feel like there was some tension, but there were a few too many plot holes for me to get much out of the story.
Arbitrageis a movie that feels like its being trotted out as Oscar bait, and while there is a pretty compelling performance by Richard Gere, the movie itself is too uneven to say it elevates to those heights. Its not a bad movie, but its not as good as it thinks it is, and ends up being kind of forgettable. Its a rental.
Labels:ArbitrageBrit MarlingLaetitia CastaNate ParkerNicholas JareckiRichard GereSusan SarandonTim Roth
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