17 November 2012 | Bob_the_Hobo
A Wonderful, Powerful Character Study
"What's your price?" The question haunts Richard Gere's character of Robert Miller, a vain hedge fund manager married to Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and preparing to hand down his business dynasty to his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling). That is, until a freak accident with his mistress coincides with a self-perpetrating fraud scandal. Now confronted with unprecedented stress, Miller has to fight to keep his family and business intact.
Richard Gere's absence on the Oscar nomination stage for the entirety of his career will hopefully be ended with this stunning character study. Gere is in perfect form, personifying a complicated man who for once sees the results of his narcissistic actions. While his empire crumbles, his personal life goes the same way. Every scene Gere is in brings to light just how powerful an actor he is.
But an actor would be nothing without a powerful script. The author of the film's screenplay is also the film's director, Nicholas Jarecki, the co-author of the 2009 film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis film "The Informers". In his largest film yet, Jarecki keeps with themes of arrogance that comes with power. The script moves at a brisk pace, keeping your attention and leaving you nearly breathless once you've reached the conclusion.
Cinematography and setting blend easily into the background of these character's actions. New York City is brought to live, as she has countless times before, as the epicenter and culmination of the good and the bad. But what sets the screen apart from any other NYC-set film is the fact that nothing seems to be done to make NYC any more like NYC. The film's version of the city is exactly how it is in real life.
Susan Sarandon, still as beautiful as ever, steals her scenes as Miller's powerful wife. As does Brit Marling and especially Nate Parker, newcomers full of promise. The sole weak spot is, surprisingly, the performance of Tim Roth, the detective. His character starts the film with a Brooklyn-type accent. In his second scene Roth seems to attain his native Cockney accent, then lose it as the film progresses. He ends with a bizarre jumble of both.
"Arbitrage" is an intelligent, engaging thriller about the depths of bad decisions made from the arrogance of power. It is a must-see of the 2012 film season.