Arbitrage

22 Aug

Arbitrage

 

 

Director: Nicholas Jarecki

Writer: Nicholas Jarecki

Stars: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth

Motion picture rating: R

Runtime: 107 minutes

 

I am not sure about Richard Gere. I have always been unsure although I count American Gigolo (1980) and An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) as guilty pleasures. Maybe he was at his best in the 1980’s. Certainly he does not get too many meaty roles in the new millennium. This one is about as big as it gets with Gere in every scene playing the smooth and successful head of a New York family-run hedge fund. He is Robert Miller and the film opens with him celebrating his 60th birthday with his handsome family. The kids, grand kids and loving wife (Susan Sarandon) are all there in an impressive mansion.

Miller is an arrogant man. He is rude, dismissive and a borderline sociopath. He is obsessed with business and money, dispensing advice such as “money fixes everything” to his underlings. He is a classic fat cat / big banker character. There is little subtle about him and his ultimate demise is hardly novel. Miller is having an affair with a young artist and hiding some bad deals off the books whilst trying to cement a merger. Both acts of moral turpitude come back to haunt him via plot devices that have been done before (Wall Street, Bonfire of the Vanities, Margin Call). His arrogance catches up with him and in trying to save himself he pulls in his family, close associates and the son of an ex-friend (Nate Parker) – all whilst being pursued by a dogged cop (Tim Roth).

The point of introducing the ex-friend’s son and the cop is to emphasize the gap between super rich bankers and normal working class folks. Nate Parker’s honest and hard-working character is compromised by Miller’s actions whilst Tim Roth’s cop has simply had enough of the wealthy buying themselves out of trouble. The cop is the best character in the film and Roth does an excellent Columbo impression to bring him alive. Elsewhere the acting is solid, but unimpressive. The film is the same. It is solid enough, but it carries little real weight and the simple themes are handled with little fair. As a criticism of Wall St the film is lightweight and as a thriller it is not tight enough.

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