1 hour 47 minutes
Rated R (Language, Brief Violent Images and Drug Use)
Directed by Nicholas Jarecki
Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, and Nate Parker
3 out of 4 stars
IN THEATERS NOW. I ALSO THINK IT’S ON DEMAND.
Arbitrage is a creepy little thriller about how the rich can get away with crime. It stars Richard Gere as an NYC billionaire consumed by power. He isn’t a good person. He makes mistakes and has the people around him get the blame for it. As long as he has his money then he’s happy. That’s all that matters. Writer/director Nicholas Jarecki’s movie is unsettling in that it makes us realize that there are probably hundreds of rich people like this in the world. We don’t know the people we trust and give our money too. They could be stealing our money to keep for themselves. They could even be murderers. It’s a classic example of how money is one of the most dangerous things in the world.
Gere plays Robert Miller, a 60 year old hedge fund magnate (and I don’t know what that job is because I’m horrible at business and anything economically-related). He’s married to Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and his own daughter, Brooke (Brit Marling, from last year’s Another Earth), is the CFO of his company. He’s got two problems. One: he’s taken over a hundred million dollars from the company and hidden it because of an investment loss. He hasn’t told anybody, not even Brooke, who if the fraud gets out could get fired. He says it’s all okay and he had to do it or else the company was gonna go broke. Yet it really seems like he did this to protect his own money and not anybody else’s. His second problem is that he’s cheating on Ellen with one of his employees, Julie (Laetitia Casta), who’s slowly becoming a Glenn Close because he’s spending less and less time with her. One night he’s driving her back home and falls asleep at the wheel. The car flips and Julie is killed instantly. Robert gets out of the car and walks away. Then the car blows up.
Now Robert is in real crap. If what happened gets out he’ll be accused of involuntary manslaughter and be sent to jail for a thousand years. The night of the accident he calls Jimmy (Nate Parker), the son of a chauffeur that used to work for him. Jimmy is obviously middle class and has no idea what Robert’s up to. Robert tells him to keep his mouth shut and just forget about the whole night. Soon Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) gets involved and is convinced that Robert did it. He soon finds out that Jimmy was a witness and begins to interrogate him as well. Jimmy says he doesn’t know what’s going on even though there’s evidence of his car picking up the billionaire that night. Robert tells him that everything will be alright and that he’ll get him the best lawyer in town. Why does Jimmy have to go to court for Robert’s mistake? Because he’s less powerful. It’s as simple as that.
Gere is tremendous here and gives his best performance since his Golden Globe Award winning turn in Chicago. Jarecki doesn’t forget about the other characters and their internal obsession with having power. Sarandon’s character is just as unlikable as her husband because she only cares about money as well. Who cares about the fact that an innocent girl was killed and left to die in a burning car. They just need the money! As long as they don’t lose that than Julie’s death is no big deal. Arbitrage maintains a selfish but realistic outlook on greed and deceit in the corporate world. We give our money to people like this, but should we trust them?