A Great Rib: “Arbitrage” Shows Gere’s Still Got It

Arbitrage

Arbitrage (Nicholas Jarecki, 2012)

I missed this film when it came out. I even had an opportunity to see it at Cinema Sundays at the Charles. I’m still not sure why I just didn’t want to see it. Maybe it was the plot description: “ARBITRAGE, the feature directorial debut of writer Nicholas Jarecki, is a taut and alluring suspense thriller about love, loyalty, and high finance” (taken from http://www.arbitrage-film.com). Maybe it was the trailer, which I found oddly repellant. Or maybe it was just the prospect of seeing Gere play yet another silver fox.

So I was surprised to find that I liked the film. A lot. Sure, it has plot holes and contrived situations, and the cop character played by Tim Roth is completely over-the-top and unbelievable, but the story of how a titan of the financial world gets away with a series of crimes is extremely compelling. And Gere, at the center, holds your attention in a way that few actors can. He has often played flawed and/or evil men with a flair that makes you root for their success (think Internal Affairs, for instance). He has a gift for understanding that no one is bad in their own eyes.

In Arbitrage, Gere plays Robert Miller, a hedge fund manager who has committed fraud in order to make his business appear solvent as it comes up for sale. It’s a tricky game, and he hides the details from his wife, played by Susan Sarandon, as well as his daughter, played by relative newcomer Brit Marling (lovely). This last deception is especially hard (and risky), since said daughter also happens to be the chief investment officer of Miller’s business. To add to the layers of lies, Miller is also carrying on a passionate affair with Julie, a French artist (Laetitia Casta – annoying and unappealing – why would one cheat on Susan Sarandon with this non-entity?). One night, while driving to his vacation home with Julie asleep by his side, Miller falls asleep at the wheel, and what happens next sets the bulk of the plot in motion.

From that point on, I was hooked. I may have found Roth ridiculous, but I watched, avidly, anyway. I particularly appreciated the discomfort of father and daughter as the one tries to hide the financial deception and the other nevertheless discovers it. And while the bad guys in this movie may escape punishment, there is retribution of a sort, as family bonds are irrevocably destroyed.

I’m actually a bit shocked that Gere wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. I thought his performance had greater nuance than Hugh Jackman’s in Les Misérables or Joaquin Phoenix’s in The Master. Gere has never been nominated for an Oscar, in fact. True, he has played the silver fox once too often, but he can be quite good.

You should see this film for him, for a deeply engrossing plot – flaws and all – and for Brit Marling. Enjoy!

Oh, and that “rib” of my review title? Well, see the movie, and you’ll get why my silly anagram makes some kind of sense . . .

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