Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
 Arbitrage defined is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.  Huh?  I'm sorry I looked that up because now my head hurts.  So for our revised definition of Arbitrage, it now means a system setup by a slick looking older dude with great hair who cheats on his wife, cheats the system, stabs people in people in the back, manipulates those he can't stab, lies, cheats, steals and is an all around awful person.  But because this Arbitrage cat is being played by Richard Gere… it's almost impossible to root against this scumbag.  The benefits of having great hair. 

On the surface it looks like Robert Miller (Gere) has it all.  He's rich, successful in business, often finds himself on the cover of Fortune magazine, has a loving wife in Ellen (Susan Sarandon), a couple of sharp children including his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling) who would be poised to take over her dad's company… that is if he wasn't in the midst of brokering a mega deal to sell the damn thing. 

This is where we begin to see the cracks in the otherwise solid visage of one Robert Miller.  Yes, he has a loving wife but he also has a crazed mistress on the side.  Just so you know we here at the FCU are firm believers that infidelity is a really bad thing, but when your pretend mistress is being played by Laetitia Casta we must consider the possibility of a little moral wiggle room.  Just a little.  Continuing on, Robert is also selling this company of his under a haze of smoke and mirrors to represent some things financially that really aren't there.  That's would be fraud and that would put Robert in jail should he be found out.
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Then on one night on a lonely road driving with his mistress, Robert's house of cards completely collapses.  Or at least it would've caved in on most normal people but this cat is so slick that he has contingency plans on top of contingency plans to get out of tight binds.  Crash a car, your mistress dies, you leave the scene, the car explodes… what do you do?  Call the one Black guy you know (Nate Parker) because I guess Black people know how to get out of this kind of trouble.  Need an alibi in case this mess comes back to you, then switch a few surveillance tapes and get your loving wife to lie for you.  She knows what's up.  That shady business deal you designed is falling apart for a number of reasons, one of these being because you raised your baby girl to be a little too smart… lie, cheat, steal, play the daddy card… do what you have to do to get your money.  Black guy looking like he might cave in… maybe a few mil will help him keep his mouth shut.  Rich people hating cop (Tim Roth) getting a little too close to the truth, maybe even inventing some truth… turn into Hercule Poirot and put him in his working class place.  Still… this house of cards is steadily collapsing but… I think he's going to bamboozle his way out of it.

Director Nicholas Jerecki's movie is a slightly different kind of thriller in that our hero is also our villain and it is Richard Gere's portrayal of this heroic villain that makes 'Arbitrage' such a mesmerizing film to watch.  Mostly.  Watching Robert Miller in action, the man going through his numerous machinations to deceive and cheat and mislead, it's pretty obvious that this guy is not a very good person, but Robert Miller seems completely unaware that he is an awful person.  I mean he knows cheating on his wife is wrong, otherwise while ducking out his 60th birthday party he'd tell his wife the truth as to where he was going late at night as opposed to making up a weak lie, but even though it's not explicitly stated, he knows she knows.  This character has existed in a world so different from ours…or I guess I should say 'different from mine' since I don't know how you're living… but this character has been doing his thing for so long that apparently there is no more right or wrong, just winners and losers and Robert Miller isn't trying to lose.  And if you need an actor to play a slick looking older dude with fantastic hair who at the same disgusts you, but not so much that want to stop watching him do what he does… and George Clooney is busy that week… the Richard Gere is your go to guy.

Jerecki directs his movie swiftly, with the sensibilities of an edge-of-your-seat thriller despite the heavy financial overtones and terminology, and the movie is better for it.  The cast supporting Gere is top notch, and might I say it's good to see Angel from The Rockford Files (Stuart Margolin) still alive and working after all these years. 

There are a couple of things, like some of the financial verbiage leaving me a little confused since I'm not financially fluent.  The movie 'Margin Call' which was far heavier in the verbiage than this one did have the common decency to make sure some stupid people were always around who needed stuff explained to them in ways they could understand.  Also Robert Miller's ability to pull rabbits out of top hats started to push the limits of believability to its breaking point.  And if you step back a minute and think about, beyond the fact that 'Arbitrage' was just flat out entertaining, what was the message?  Handsome rich dudes always get what they want?  I can speak from personal experience that this just isn't true.  Oh wait… I'm not rich or handsome.  Moving along…

'Arbitrage' is one fine thriller with just the bare minimum of head scratching flaws, but featuring yet another solid performance from Richard Gere. 
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