Magazine article Screen International

Arbitrage

Magazine article Screen International

Arbitrage

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Nicholas Jarecki. US. 2012. 110mins

If the world needs another tale of Wall Street corruption and the immorality of the top 1%, here comes Nicholas Jarecki's directorial debut Arbitrage, a serviceable, crisply paced drama about a billionaire patriarch trying to hold his life--and fortunes--together. With a cavalcade of name actors and a healthy marketing budget, the film could do some business in the U.S. and internationally. But it's not going to win any prizes for originality.

Arbitrage is barely a few notches above the long-running episodic series, which half the time has a rich bad guy who inevitably gets his comeuppance.

Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a hedge fund magnate, celebrating his 60th birthday with his beautiful family, while he awaits the impending sale of his corporation to a rival investment bank. Seemingly unbeknownst to his family and associates, however, he has a few secrets: a French lover (Laetitia Casta) who runs an art gallery and some unethical bookkeeping in his company accounts. It's only a matter of time, of course, before, as Miller says in an opening monologue about the economic collapse, "reality sets in and the bubble bursts."

Right on time, a first act twist involving a car accident sends Miller reeling, raising the stakes for all involved, and turning this would-be financial thriller into a full-blown morality tale.

Jarecki continually ratchets up the tension: Will the big acquisition deal go through? Will Miller's beautiful, brilliant daughter (Brit Marling) discover the cooked books that could cripple the deal? And will a smarmy New York detective (Tim Roth), investigating the car accident, uncover Miller's personal secrets and bring everything crumbling down?

Now why should audiences care about a white-collar criminal and philanderer? Richard Gere delivers a solid performance as a man under pressure, sweating out his impending downfall and trying to survive. …

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