I will start with an apology, there has been a lack of productivity of late and I can blame a batch of tonsillitis for that. However I managed to drag my ass to the cinema to see Arbitrage this week (such a trooper), good job I don’t review restaurants or this would be a different story…
Richard Gere plays the lead role of Robert Miller, along with Susan Sarandon as his wife Ellen, and their daughter Brooke is played by Brit Marling – a very purdy lady who I don’t think I have seen in a film before. Other characters crucial to the plot are Gere’s lover Julie (Laititia Casta – of modelling fame), Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) and Jimmy (Nate Parker).
If you have seen the trailer you have seen the whole plot pretty much except for the conclusion. Arbitrage is all about Richard Gere. His character Miller owns a lucrative hedge fund enterprise that has recently fallen on hard times, to save his family from bankruptcy he needs to sell it off and pay his debts. That sounds incredibly boring, I hear you say? Well in the mean time Miller is cheating on his adoring wife with a beautiful French artist, who he inadvertently kills in a car accident and so has to cover up from the suspecting police. Also dragging an old friend Jimmy into the mix who is faced with 10-15 years jail time for a crime he should never have been involved in. Quite a mess!!
I had read that this was Richard Gere’s best performance for the last few years. I would say that this statement is correct, but only because I can’t think of his last title… except for the one about a dog which I did not see, based on the fact that it was about Richard Gere’s relationship with a Husky – didn’t thrill me. But I digress, Gere holds this film together well and pulls off a very convincing reaction to crashing his car and killing his lover. He does forget that he has a side splitting injury at times, but really the director should have pulled him up on this. Although Gere’s character was the bad guy in this film, he was also the hero. It was a strange dynamic where I wanted him to be caught for his crime and pay for what he has done, but also I wanted him to get off scot free for the sake of his family.
This feeling was only strengthened by the brilliant Tim Roth playing the detective on the suspected murder investigation. Usually you might expect in this scenario for the detective to be the hero – he is out to catch the millionaire who thinks he can do what he wants, and get some justice in a corrupt city. Actually Detective Bryer is a rude, stubborn man so hell bent on convicting the rich man that he will go so far as falsifying evidence to get the result he wants. Roth though plays this role fantastically and has a great accent!
Nate Parker’s character Jimmy was a good twist in the story. He was really the victim in Arbitrage as he helps Miller get away from the scene of the crime without knowing what had actually happened. He only does this out of a sense of debt because of Miller’s generosity in the past, but becomes a pawn in Detectives Bryer’s mission to convict Miller. Due to his prior, Jimmy faces a long jail time if convicted for helping Miller. Just as he is turning his life around, Miller has pulled him back in to trouble with the law and this complicates his emotional and rational thinking around getting out of this predicament. Confess and save Jimmy but destroy his business and bring his family to ruin, or keep quiet and risk an innocent man doing time and having it on your conscience. Not many great choices there.
Gere and Sarandon make a great screen couple. As much as I hated Gere’s character for taking his amazing family for granted, I was routing for Miller and his wife to make amends and fall back in love after the awful affair. I was disappointed, but for me Susan Sarandon is the hero in Arbitrage, playing the wife who everyone thinks is out of the loop, but actually knows all about her husbands foul play in the bedroom as well as the boardroom (Boom!). She also makes the ending a very satisfying one in my eyes. The end of the film however is very abrupt! Clap clap clap clap CREDITS.
Almost like the end of this review! All I can really say about Arbitrage is that it was ok. It was a film that didn’t necessarily need to be made, an average story line, a pretty good cast, alright characters but no surprises really. Might be worth a watch when it comes out on DVD or have an unlimited cinema card 😉 Or if you are a particular fan of money orientated crime drama.
That’s all folks!