Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon are finally married on screen! ‘Arbitrage’ (2013).

8 Mar

Arbitrage posterLegendary squinter and melter of women’s hearts is back in Arbitrage, a thriller/drama directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Gere plays the multi-millionaire tycoon Robert Miller, who on his sixtieth birthday is involved in a rather cataclysmic incident which threatens to tarnish both his professional and his familial lives. Investments go awry and personal betrayals are revealed as Miller does his best to salvage what dignity, reputation and, above all, money he can.

This film is unique in that it manages to make the audience (who, more than likely, aren’t billionaires) empathise and even sympathise with such ridiculously wealthy people. While their cashmere lifestyle will throw some, for the most part the viewer really feels for Robert’s plight – even though he may not necessarily be in the right. Risky business deals, along with other problems, threaten to force the Miller clan into apparent bankruptcy, and although you just know he probably has hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed away somewhere, Robert’s dilemma is infectious in its potency. A contemporary reworking of the 1980’s yuppie drama, though with 21st century problems, Arbitrage fails in the ‘thriller’ department yet more than succeeds from a dramatic angle. This film hooked me like a fish!

Gere is at the top of his game here – the veteran king of smooth is looking well, almost an exact theoretical hybrid of Alec Baldwin and Jeremy Paxman. His fictional, luxurious lifestyle is compliments his classy demeanour expertly; he is really suited to this role. The equally wonderful Susan Sarandon is similarly excellent as his struggling wife. The impressively gracefully-ageing actress has perhaps the most intriguing role in the entire movie: while initially appearing as a throwaway token feminine spouse, her true character is revealed, and turns out to be rather badass. Nods must be given to Nate Parker, an aspiring young actor who plays Jimmy Grant, Robert’s one hope of redemption, who gives a fantastically realist performance, one which tackles the obvious racial bias in legal affairs.

As films go, Arbitrage is relatively female-empowering. Many of the men, including virtually all of the primary dude leads, are all either critically flawed, have some surreptitious agenda, or both. On the other hand, the aforementioned Sarandon character coupled with Robert’s overtly business-savvy daughter Brooke (Brit Marling) prove to be not only the most stable bastions of sense in the film, but also the strongest. Towards the movie’s finale, both women get significant plot leverage, and they really decide Robert’s outcome. Though mostly off-camera, Jimmy’s love interest has a similarly crucial stranglehold on the film’s eventual dramatic climax. In general, the men don’t come off overly admirable in Arbitrage.

Overall, this movie is a commentary on the perils of meddling in financial gambles, and especially those exceeding the hundred million dollar-mark. Arbitrage is a wonderfully promising feature-length debut from Jarecki, and a fantastic return to form for the ever-suave Gere.

Simon says: I almost wish it was bad so I could call Arbitrage ‘arbitrary’.

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