Friday, September 14, 2012

Movie review:'Arbitrage' – you'll 'tsk-tsk' and love watching it - Sacramento Bee

Greed is good, until it isn't anymore, is the message of "Arbitrage," a guilty-pleasure thriller for these tough economic times.

In directing his first feature, writer and documentarian Nicholas Jarecki shows great command of tone â€" a balance of sex, danger and manipulation with some insiderish business talk and a healthy sprinkling of dark humor to break up the tension.

His film is well-cast and strongly acted, and while it couldn't be more relevant, it also recalls the decadence of 1980s Wall Street, shot in 35 mm as it is, with a synth-heavy score from composer Cliff Martinez (who wrote similar music for "Drive").

"Arbitrage" is a lurid look at a lavish lifestyle that allows us to cluck disapprovingly while still vicariously enjoying its luxurious trappings.

Richard Gere stars as Robert Miller, a billionaire hedge-fund magnate who, at the film's start, is magnanimously sharing his wisdom in an interview with none other than CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.

As he turns 60, Robert would seem to have it all â€" looks, wealth, a loving family and respect among his peers. And yet he always wants more and feels em-boldened by the different rules and morals that seem to apply in his rarefied world.

So he "borrows" $417 million from a fellow tycoon to cover a hole in his portfolio and make his company look as stable as possible as it's about to be acquired by a bank. This is otherwise known as fraud. And despite the loyalty and support of his smart, beautiful wife (Susan Sarandon), he has a hot (and hot-headed) French mistress on the side (former Victoria's Secret model Laetitia Casta) who runs in stylish, hard-partying art circles. (That's another '80s throwback: the blasé cocaine consumption.)

Both these schemes explode in his face over the course of a few fateful days. An audit of his firm has raised some red flags, making the potential buyer turn reluctant and evasive. This prompts the suspicions of his devoted daughter (Brit Marling, every bit Gere's equal), who's also the company's chief financial officer and heir apparent.

But more immediately and dramatically, Robert is involved in a deadly accident that puts the police on his tail (Tim Roth plays the lead detective with a wonderfully thick New York accent) and requires him to enlist the help of a kid from Harlem (Nate Parker) who's the son of his late, longtime chauffeur.

That's a lot of plates to keep spinning at once; just the financial story line alone could have sufficed without the affair messing things up further.

What's surprising about "Arbitrage" is that Jarecki never judges this man for the tricky position he's gotten himself into and never tries to steer our feelings toward him, either.

Gere is so charming, so irresistible when he's on top of the world â€" when he's got all those plates humming in unison â€" that he kind of makes you root for his character to get away with it all. His smooth, placid demeanor is perfect here, which make the few times he does snap seem that much more startling.

Robert may not learn anything by the end, and teetering on the brink of serious trouble doesn't make him a more decent person; actually, he gets nastier and more demanding as the screws tighten.

As Parker's character puts it: "You think money is gonna fix this?"

Robert doesn't miss a beat in responding: "What else is there?"


Three Stars

Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Laetitia Casta, Brit Marling

Director: Nicholas Jarecki

100 minutes

Rated R (language, brief violent images and drug use)

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "Report Abuse" link to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

• Don't flag other users' comments just because you don't agree with their point of view. Please only flag comments that violate these guidelines.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "Report Abuse" link to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them.

No comments:

Post a Comment