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Arbitrage - Review

Arbitrage

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

FOR my money, Richard Gere is never better than when playing things dark.

His latest, Arbitrage, offers another deliciously conflicted character on a par with his mesmerising turns in Internal Affairs and The Hoax.

Taken at face value, the character of Robert Miller is typical Gere fare; rich, successful, handsome. He could be Pretty Woman‘s Edward Lewis several years down the line complete with equally charming children.

Scratch beneath that exterior, however, and there lies a ruthless businessman. He is a hedge fund manager who has invested badly and who is covering up a fraud.

He’s also desperate to sell his company before the extent of his financial irregularities can be uncovered. And he’s having an affair. And then things get much, much worse.

Written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki, Arbitrage is an engrossing potboiler that is very much a product of these troubled financial times. It’s layered with moral and ethical ambiguity and paints a stark picture of corporate ruthlessness that grips from the outset.

Some may argue that the film is cold as a result but it’s never less than riveting and there’s plenty to engage the brain even if some of the plotting becomes slightly predictable as the film enters its final third.

Gere, though, is terrific value, deftly combining outward charisma with a self-serving ruthlessness reminiscent of his character in Internal Affairs (another man who claimed to be doing bad things to support his family). It’s a complex portrait of a compelling, if unlikeable, individual – albeit one who is very much an anti-hero on this occasion.

There’s strong support, too, from Tim Roth as a dogged NYPD detective, Susan Sarandon as Robert’s wife, Nate Parker as an unlikely ally in Robert’s subsequent fight for freedom and Brit Marling as his daughter and company protege. The latter two, in fact, offer up the film’s few genuine innocents.

Jarecki’s script manages to explore the world of high finance and compromised ethics in intelligent fashion without dumbing things down and his direction keeps things moving at a brisk pace without short-changing any of the performances.

The result is a dark drama that genuinely impresses and which finds Gere on unmissable form. Jarecki, meanwhile, is clearly a name to watch.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 100mins
UK Release Date: March 1, 2013