Films | Arbitrage – Movie Review

Arbitrage – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on September 14, 2012 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Laura Bickford, Kevin Turen, Justin Nappi, Robert Salerno, Mohammed Alturki
DIRECTOR – Nicholas Jarecki
WRITER – Nicholas Jarecki
CAST – Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling
MUSIC – Cliff Martinez

The economic meltdown of 2008 spawned many stories, in real life as well as fiction. ‘Arbitrage’ written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki and starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon in lead roles, is one such film. It is a thriller and deals with the kind of scams and hedging that had Wall Street almost buckling to its knees but attempts to humanise the people behind the disaster.

Arbitrage is a term used in economics to signify the price difference between two markets and the profits that may arise out of it. In the film Robert Miller (Richard Gere), a multi-billionaire businessman finds his life teetering on the edge due to one such indulgence that does not give expected returns and resorts to faking his accounts. He is in the middle of selling his company before this fraud comes to light when he makes a mistake in his personal which turns into a crime. His picture-perfect life with a loving wife (Susan Sarandon) and beautiful children, lavish homes and lifestyle is all at stake at one go.

The film is no moral lesson, rather a character expose, if it may be called so. As Robert’s personal and professional life spirals down the thin line of ethics continues to become thinner yet the film doesn’t hold it against him nor does it take sides. His is a character whose identity is his money and his ability to earn (and keep) it. And in the way people like him do, he parallels everything with money and the pride that it sustains. Yet, Robert remains a flesh and blood character, someone whom we identify with despite his surreptitiousness and flawed person. It is when we begin to wish that the entire state machinery of law and order would fail against this very wrong man, is when we realise the achievement of Nicholas in showing us a glimpse of the fatal flaws of people with power.

The film is a conventional drama that relies completely on the strength of its taut-as-wire screenplay and fabulous performances by Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth – the detective investigating a case against Miller. It slowly begins with one obstacle and widens its net to show how the rope around Miller’s neck is getting tighter. And Richard Gere invests an exquisitely shifty quality that outlines the charisma, confidence, connivance and distress of Miller. Sarandon, in her brief yet powerful role is regal, years having had done nothing to her original sparkle. Tim Roth’s detective begins as textbook character but effortlessly rises into significance with the hold Roth has on him.

A thoroughly engaging film, Arbitrage leaves us with mixed feelings, and probably it is to take us close to the uneasy nature of those feelings the an almost moot climax is left unspoken and open-ended, almost asking us what would ‘we’ like to happen? It ends up being pretty powerful and comes across as a courageous thing to attempt in an atmosphere of quick (and lasting) demonisation.

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