Movie Review: “Arbitrage” – The Price of Power

Written by Leo Panasyuk December 09, 2012

After a few years of less-than-impressive roles, Richard Gere has once again shown us how good of an actor he can really be, and damn if he doesn’t look good in a suit while doing it. This is definitely one of the more mature characters Gere has taken on in his career and though this film has its share of errors here and there, “Arbitrage” ultimately emerges as a story of trust, betrayal, love, and the fine line between a little thing called good and evil.

5 Letters Rule the World: M-O-N-E-Y

Gere plays Robert Miller, a successful New York hedge fund manager with a loving wife (played by Susan Sarandon) and two children, Brooke (Brit Marling) and Peter (Austin Lysy). One night while driving with his mistress Julie (Laetitia Casta), he dozes off at the wheel long enough to get into an accident which ends up killing Julie. Leaving the scene of the crime, Miller comes under fire from a relentless police detective (Tim Roth) hell-bent on solving the case. Coupled with the fact that Miller owes a colleague millions of dollars following a business deal gone sour, our friend Miller finds himself in quite a pickle to say the least. However, this is about as good as the story gets.

Not even money and power can prevent the inevitable.

Richest Man in the Cemetery

As mentioned, Gere absolutely shines in this film. His role is in sync with the tone of the film: serious and tense. His dynamite performance is rivalled only by that of Roth’s, with one scene having them trade blows of “I’m the better actor!” Now where the plot sometimes doesn’t do the film the justice it deserves, Gere’s role as a fragile yet resilient man almost makes you forget all that. Here is a man whose world is crumbling before him yet he is expected by his daughter, wife and employees to be serious and act like all is business as usual. Roth’s performance is also noteworthy, yet as a detective, he does one thing in the film that made me question him as a character and it was really difficult to shake. No spoilers but it still makes me scratch my head in confusion.

Undoubtedly one of Richard Gere’s smoothest, suavest roles.

An Uneven Balance

Sadly, however, weaker performances in the film – Susan Sarandon’s comes to mind as her character only really gave a great performance in the last 10 minutes and even then was outdone by Brit Marling (ouch) – and Gere’s son who is virtually non-existent. He maybe has a 30-second cameo then, poof! Gone. There’s also some business lingo in the film that some may not catch onto but there’s not so much that it becomes a business 101 lecture instead of a movie.

The dark side of power.

Power is the Best Alibi

While the film does have an interesting plot and great performances from its leading men, I still walked out of the theatre having wanted more. That’s not to say that “Arbitrage” was a bad film, it just lacked in certain necessary areas. Yet I still enjoyed it and hopefully this film will give Richard Gere’s career the kick it has been in need of for a very long time now.

My Rating: 7/10


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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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