Sunday, November 4, 2012

Arbitrage: Movie Review

Intelligence of a character study and the intrigue of a thriller.

In “Arbitrage”, Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a rich, successful business man and family man. Except he’s not as perfect as he seems. He’s involving his business in illegal fraudulent activities and he has a mistress on the side. While everyone is singing his praises at his 60th birthday party, and news journalists want to do reports on how smart, business-savvy and successful he is, Julie (Laetitia Casta) is complaining that he isn’t with her when she wants him to be. 2012

Directed by: Nicholas Jarecki

Screenplay by: Nicholas Jarecki

Starring: Richard Gere, Brit Marling, and Susan Sarandon

Rather unexpectedly, a serious crime is committed. Well, that depends on how you look at it. There is a serious outcome to some neglectful actions, and legally speaking there was a crime committed, but it might not be as bad as the legal consequences could suggest. Not surprisingly, the unscrupulous lying Robert is at the center and he’s the perpetrator.

To get him out of the jam, Robert calls Jimmy (Nate Parker), an innocent, hard-working black man born on the wrong side of the tracks. Jimmy is the son of an old business partner and he also represents one of the best supporting characters that viewers could hope for. He’s sympathetic, he’s innocent, but he’s not naïve. He’s loyal and he’s going to help Robert no matter how unjust the legal system can be.

“Arbitrage” is a well written movie, establishing Robert as both a good man with bad qualities and a bad man with good qualities. He actually doesn’t deserve the treatment that the police have in store for him. We’re cheering for Jimmy because he didn’t do anything wrong and we’re cheering for Robert because having to face his family would probably be harder on him than anything the cops could throw at him.

Nicholas Jarecki as both director and screenwriter handles the dynamics of Robert’s personal life and professional life colliding with just as much deftness as when it combines the interesting subtle elements of a character study with the suspense and intricate plot of a thriller. Richard Gere and Nate Parker portray those profound dynamics with career-best award-deserving performances. While Susan Sarandon as the forgotten wife is waiting on the side-lines ready to devour the carcass of whatever is left of Robert.