Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling
Directed by: Nicholas Jarecki (“The Outsider”)
Written by: Nicholas Jarecki (“The Informers”)
For the everyman, it’s fairly easy to hit a nerve when trying to explain exactly what happened on Wall St. in 2008 that led to the U.S. economic downfall. Greedy men making questionable deals with each other for millions without really even lifting a finger would make any hardworking American wonder how these people at the top can sleep at night. It’s the reason it’s so effortless to vilify the lead character in “Arbitrage,” a dramatic thriller that takes a page from a really good episode of Law & Order.
In “Arbitrage,” Richard Gere (“Chicago”) plays Robert Miller, a corrupt hedge-fund investor who is so busy making deals he doesn’t have time to pick out his grandkids’ birthday gifts. He’s also cheating on his wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon), which doesn’t help when trying to find at least one redeeming quality about him. At 60, Robert is selling his company although his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), who is also the CFO of the firm, questions the real motive behind such an unusual move for her father. The reason is simple: Robert is swindling the system and down $412 million. If he doesn’t sell, he will go belly up. Business and pleasure collide with each other when a tragic event with his mistress forces him to do the unthinkable.
Once “Arbitrage” gets into the thick of things, it’s never boring. Even with scene-chewing characters like Tim Roth’s sharp-minded Det. Michael Bryer, the film is interesting enough to hold one’s attention. But once out of the theater, it is evident there’s nothing truly memorable or even really noteworthy of the film that hasn’t been done before in any number of police procedurals. The production value might be 10 times as large as a TV show like USA’s White Collar, but both are operating on a small-scale state of mind.