While billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Miller (Gere) is on the verge of selling his company in order to cover up a $400 million loss, he’s involved in a car crash which kills his mistress (Casta). Realising that such a scandal would kill the sale, Miller flees the scene after calling Jimmy (Parker), a former con whom he helped previously. As his life spins out of control, Miller’s wife (Sarandon) and daughter (Marling) become suspicious, while the investigating detective (Roth) attempts to hang the murder on Jimmy in order to smoke out the truth…
Even though it’s set in the financial world, Arbitrage isn’t about the financial world. Well, not in the same way that, say, Wall Street and Margin Call were. Sure, there’s talk of mergers, hedge funds and offshore accounts, as well as the odd splash of economic jargon. But this is a tightly-wound character thriller, first and foremost, one of those movies where the central character grows increasingly desperate as his life gradually spins out of control. At one point, Richard Gere’s titan of industry starts to question whether his tie is too blue or not.
Whilst hardly a game-changer, Nicholas Jarecki’s debut deserves credit for avoiding predictability and keeping the tension simmering throughout. Aside from an impressively-choreographed car crash, there isn’t much (if anything) in the way of ‘action’. It’s not that sort of film. But yet Arbitrage still manages to remain tense, thrilling and gripping, thanks largely to a smart script from Jarecki, a moody score from Cliff Martinez and a career best performance from Richard Gere.
Though dismissed by many as the ’80s sex symbol from Pretty Woman and An Officer And A Gentleman, Gere has proven over the years that he’s got game when provided with worthy material (see Internal Affairs, Primal Fear, The Mothman Prophecies), and here he’s on top form. Brit Marling, Susan Sarandon and Nate Parker are all solid in support, while Tim Roth stands out as the detective who knows Miller to be guilty. Toying with him at one point, Roth plays it like Columbo with a handlebar ‘tache.
A tightly-wound character thriller, Arbitrage keeps the tension simmering while showcasing a career best from Richard Gere. You don’t need a degree in economics to watch.