#1  
Old 09-16-2012, 01:13 AM
Nicholas Jarecki's Arbitrage

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

http://www.examiner.com/article/movie-review-arbitrage



http://www.examiner.com/article/movie-review-arbitrage

Arbitrage (2012)

ďArbitrageĒ is a film that puts a morally-questionable character through his paces. Heís a man that has lied, cheated, and done everything in his power to cover it up. All of these things have allowed him to become quite successful, or, at the very least, to appear successful. However, these things do eventually catch up with him, causing his normal life to be turned completely upside down, with the potential consequences being quite dire.

The manís name is Robert Miller (Richard Gere), a successful businessman with a wonderful family who is looking to sell his multi-million-dollar company. The problem is there are certain aspects of his company that are fraudulent, including falsified earnings. If this were to be discovered, he could face several years of jail time. Robertís problems donít end at the office, however, as he also has a mistress, Julie (Laetitia Casta), that he is trying to keep happy by supporting her in developing her art.

As if this werenít enough for him, one night, as heís driving with Julie, Robert starts to fall asleep at the wheel, causing him to flip the car over and kill her. Not knowing what to do, Robert gets away from the accident and phones Jimmy (Nate Parker), the son of a man who used to work for him, to pick him up and take him home. Itís not long before a detective (Tim Roth) comes looking for Robert. However, the detective is also suspicious about a phone call that Jimmy received from near the accident that night, a piece of evidence that could lead him right to Robert.

One of the first things that sticks out about ďArbitrageĒ is just how strange the story set up is. Some writers might have been content just to have a film about a businessman who is conducting illegal business practices that could get him into a lot of trouble, while having him try to cover it all up. However, this was apparently not enough for writer/director Nicholas Jarecki. He felt the need to throw in even more obstacles for his main character to overcome.

Having Robert commit involuntary manslaughter just pushes the story even farther. Some may even find that it makes the story a bit over-the-top what with Robert already facing several years in jail over fraud. The two stories never really seem to come together particularly well, but luckily, for the film to work, they donít really have to. They play out separately and have their own moments of suspense as Robert tries to wiggle out of them.

What really makes them work well is Gereís performance. He acts as a sort of anchor, holding the whole thing together. He portrays this character in a believable manner, always trying to figure out what move would serve him best. Whatís particularly interesting are the characterís instincts. Robert is a man who has become rather wealthy, leading him to think that money can solve every problem simply.

However, he finds out pretty quickly that itís not the answer to every problem he has. It works well to charm his mistress as he buys some of her paintings, but when it comes to the night of the crash, Jimmy is merely insulted when Robert tries to offer him money for his help. Gere really gets into this guyís head and shows us not only the dependence on money, but also the fragility of a man who is facing the possibility of having everything taken away from him. It is this aspect of the character that even makes us slightly hope that he will succeed, despite the terrible things heís done.

Itís rather impressive to learn that this is Jareckiís first feature film. Itís an intriguing tale, full of twists and turns and enough suspense to keep you guessing at the outcome. The third act seemed a little simplified in some respects, but it also felt real, as in this is how the story probably would resolve itself should such a coincidental pairing of events ever occur. There wouldnít be any chase scene or a shootout, but simply two businessmen negotiating and a lawyer working for his client. ďArbitrageĒ is one of those films that doesnít rely on flourish to succeed, and in the end, itís probably better off without it. 3/4 stars.
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