Mo money mo problems – Arbitrage review

Arbitrage – Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Roth. Directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Rated MA. By Richard Haridy.

Arbitrage

For some time it has felt like Richard Gere has been working on auto-pilot; not making a huge amount of De Niro-style duds, but never stepping up to the challenging roles we know he can do. It’s pleasing to see him hit a sensational stride in Arbitrage, his best performance in well over a decade. Gere plays billionaire Robert Miller, a shifty silver fox who is trying to sell off his giant company before investors discover he has cooked the books. On the side he’s balancing family life and an affair with feisty mistress Julie (Laetitia Casta). Things get even more stressful for Miller after he flees a car accident, adding a possible murder charge to his already chaotic world.

Debut director Nicholas Jarecki confidently stages this tense scenario with a Hitchcockian flair. As we follow the increasingly frantic Gere down his nightmarish rabbit hole, the picture takes a satisfyingly cold, amoral stance – less critique and more cynical observation – linking the duplicity of big economics with a deep sense of moral corruption in the individual. Gere’s wonderful turn is packed with squirrelly charm and creates an odd sense of sympathy for this essentially unforgivable character. He is irredeemable, but Gere sucks the viewer in, making us all complicit in his futile scheme.

Photography By Myles Aronowitz

Anchored by strong supporting work from Susan Sarandon as Gere’s beleaguered wife (and, to a lesser extent, Brit Marling as his suspicious daughter), Arbitrage has a cold, sexy sheen that works for and against it. As circumstances reach a boiling point in the final act, Jarecki’s presentation is a little distant and restrained, never engaging as wholly with the intensity the story seems to demand. Tim Roth‘s detective character is also constantly jarring, popping in and out of the narrative like the ghost of Columbo, looking like he wandered off the set of a completely different movie.

This is an impressive first film. However, despite a great score by Cliff Martinez, the whole project doesn’t reach the heights one feels it could. Arbitrage is still an engagingly superficial thriller that promises great things to come from Jarecki.

3/5

Arbitrage is available on DVD and Blu-ray from February 1, 2013.

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