Synopsis: A troubled hedge fund magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help
While not making direct or overt reference to the market turmoil of 2008 – 2013, Arbitrage is another in a growing collection of dramas and documentaries looking at Wall Street, greed and power through a less than flattering lense.
In Nicholas Jarecki’s tale of greed and betrayal Richard Gere is Robert Miller; the patriarchal head of a highly successful Hedge Fund company and a man his peers and the media refer to as The Oracle due to his uncanny ability to predict the markets An ability that has made him richer than God.. At 60 years old though he has decided to cash in his business and live a more family orientated life. All very noble until it becomes quickly apparent that not all is as it seems and that Miller has a host of demons he is trying to keep at bay in order to secure the purchase of his company. When a tragic event occurs, brought about by a serious lapse in Miller’s judgement, he sets into motion a chain of events that quickly become more than even The Oracle is seemingly capable of handling. Not least a tenacious and driven NYPD Detective (Tim Roth) determined to finally bring a Wall Street fat cat to justice.
Richard Gere is notoriously picky about his movie roles these days. It is testament to the quality of Jarecki’s script as well as his natural talwnt as a film maker that Gere felt comfortable placing his performance in Jarecki’s fresh hands and eyes. And it is a top 5 career turn from Gere who hasn’t been this good since Primal Fear. It is a layered and nuanced performance as Miller is forced to spin multiple plates in order to secure his sale. It is also refreshing that it never feels preachy, or like Jarecki is revelling in destroying a character that embodies the traits of the silver tongued financiers who have become public hate figures in recent years.
Jarecki also surrounded Gere with a sterling supporting cast including Susan Sarandon as his WASPish wfe, Nate Parker as the poor kid inadvertently caught in Miler’s web through a sense of obligation, and Tim Roth as the man trying to bring Miller down by any means necessary. It’s another great performance by one of Britain’s all time great contemporary film stars. And I swear he looks the same as he did in Reservoir Dogs.
Conclusion: Never preachy, and twisting a top five career performance from Gere, it’s a gripping and fascinating tale of someone who will do anything to maintain their legacy.
Cast: Richard Gere, Tim Roth, Nate Parker, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling