What if you had gained all the material things you could ever want, but lost yourself in the process? In writer-director Nicholas Jarecki’s involving drama Arbitrage (2012), Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, a self made multi-millionaire who’s about to sell his hedge fund for a huge profit. He’s the man who has everything: the big house, the cars, the loving wife and family, and even ….the younger mistress, who wants him to leave his wife for her. But some troubling choices Miller has made could spell disaster for him. An audit has discovered some problems with his company’s books, which could slow down or forestall the sale. Then he’s involved in a car accident that leaves a passenger dead, and may lead to deeper repercussions for him, his company and his family. That’s the basic setup of this intriguing story.
Are the rich really different from the rest of us? Do they get to be judged by a different standard? Once you’ve gained everything the world has to offer, do you lose your soul in the process? Gere is outstanding as Miller; his performance gives us a clear picture of the man: the smarts, charm and charisma that helped bring him success, and the darker side that thinks he can get away with things that would haunt most of us for the rest of our lives. The supporting cast is superb as well, including Susan Sarandon as Miller’s wife, Tim Roth as a cop investigating the accident that propels the plot and Nate Parker as a young man with ties to Miller’s past and his present. Brit Marling is also effective as the hedge fund magnate’s daughter, who begins to suspect everything isn’t right with the sale of the company, or with her father. And its great to see old pro Stuart Margolin (perhaps best remembered as the con man "Angel" on TV's The Rockford Files) in a small but pivotal role.
As the story moves forward, and Gere’s well ordered world begins to crumble around him, you still almost root for him, because you have affection for the character, despite his shortcomings. Will Miller own up to his bad choices, or does he assume that he’s “untouchable” because of his wealth & status? First time director Jarecki’s incisive, well-written, script examines the moral questions, but offers no easy answers for the characters or the viewer. While the film isn’t quite a thriller, it’s got aspects of that genre, and you're anxious to see what will happen in the conclusion of the story. In addition to the first rate acting and direction, Yorick Le Saux’s wonderful cinematography makes you feel like New York City is another character in the film; he shows us the cool, sharp look of the buildings & homes that inhabit the financial world & city Miller moves within; it's an excellent piece of work.
Arbitrage is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and for digital download. The DVD and Blu-ray features some interesting extras, including some featurettes concerning the making of the film and a commentary by the director. If you’re looking for an arresting drama with a solid story and some great performances, Arbitrage is a good investment. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvkKvTCD9VU&noredirect=1