The film Arbitrage follows hedge fund king Robert Miller (Richard Gere) from Wall Street to Harlem as his life begins to crumble from self-inflicted wounds, in a crime thriller that is partially ripped from the headlines.
Swindler, liar, cheater, morally-bereft, philanthropist, family man - all of these characteristics are rolled neatly into one tycoon. I watched in suspended animation, waiting for the “Madoff moment” as Richard Gere really became his loathsome character. Miller’s wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) is more concerned with getting a $2 million charity check in the mail than she is when her husband comes home at 4 am with internal bleeding and broken ribs. The 1% have it tough out there! He claims that he simply went out for ice cream and she replies, “OK, Don’t forget to take a Lipitor in the morning.” As you watch the film and your contempt for the main character grows, ask yourself, does his life really crumble?
In typical Hollywood stereotype, the Wall Street tycoon’s gorgeous, blonde, braniac daughter is the Chief Operating Officer of his company. Brit Marling’s character, Brooke, never fully develops, though she plays an integral part in the film’s plot. Her final scene with her father, in the ballroom of The Plaza Hotel, is powerful. Oh, if looks could kill.
Every scene involving Jimmy Grant, played by Nate Parker (Red Tails, The Great Debaters), is an uncomfortable I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening scenario. His performance gives the film depth and one can literally feel the pain and indignity that his character endures. I can’t elaborate more, without a spoiler alert.
Thankfully, there is no Gordon Gekko “Greed is good” mantra in the film. But Miller’s assumed chant is "We rich do what we have to do", and that is even more enraging. Pay attention to Graydon Carter, who plays negotiation hardball with Miller in the role of James Mayfield. If only all $400 million buyouts could be written up on a restaurant menu! And watch carefully for Carter’s subtle yet spectacular scene near the end of the film. Outrageous.
In an interview with The New York Times, Richard Gere sums up the twisted and layered plot of the movie, commenting that it is “not just about finance, but personal failing.”
On a lighter note, there is a scene where Miller talks about taking a trip upstate to the country, to a quiet B&B where they can just relax and get away from the city. For a moment, I thought Gere was going to plug his much-lauded luxury hotel, the Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, New York! Alas, he did not. But do watch for a ridiculously gratuitous product placement for Zappos. (Note to PR people: It’s a Sarandon verbal mention with two visuals!).
Arbitrage opens in theaters on Friday, September 14. If you see the film, let me know what you think about it…and what you think you-know-who will do with the $2 million.Tweet