A powerful Wall Street hedge-fund executive seeks to sell his trading company to bigwig banker James Mayfield. In order to get the best price, Robert Miller struggles to hide the precarious position his once healthy business empire now holds. He does so with questionable practices that threaten to destroy the lives of his investors as well as his family. That would’ve been enough story right there, but an unforeseen complication threatens to derail his comfortable family life even further.
Arbitrage is director Nicholas Jarecki’s first feature and it’s a remarkably assured debut. It does play out a bit like a TV show, but the story boasts a stellar cast who raise the level of this drama above the ordinary. The supporting players shed light on a variety of dilemmas that confront Robert Miller. Actress Brit Marling is the admirable voice of reason as his daughter and CFO of her father’s company. Tim Roth, a detective investigating the death of a pretty young French artist, Susan Sarandon, his savvy wife. Her sensational speech in a climatic scene is a highlight. And let’s not forget little known actor Nate Parker who plays an important and unlikely contact of the business magnate. He’s memorable. However, first and foremost, this is star Richard Gere’s movie.
Arbitrage is an excellent showcase for Richard Gere‘s talents. As of late, the actor has demonstrated a knack for giving some great performances. Ever since Unfaithful, He appears to be gracefully entering the latter part of his acting career with some wonderfully nuanced work. Not since Cary Grant has a leading man entered his 60s so smoothly. Robert Miller is a man of incredible wealth and power. Richard conveys the desperation of a man on the precipice of monetary ruin. Based on his less than honorable financial dealings, we should completely hate him, but in his capable hands, Gere makes him a fully formed human being that does earn our sympathy along with the expected hatred. An economic thriller may sound like an oxymoron. It’s not an easy sell perhaps, but thanks to Richard Gere, he manages to make this character study of a flawed individual, compelling.