Arbitrage (2012)

Richard Gere stars in this engaging legal thriller, a pot-boiler of a film that takes a look through the arbitrary lens of Robert Miller, a hedge-fund magnate. Gere plows through the film in style, an assured actor with an even more assured character. Confidence is what’s important to Robert Miller, and he embodies it like a club owner, a talent scout, a man pronounced lower than what his age describes. But after an unexpected, self-caused tragedy occurs, a desperate cover-up ensues to protect the intricate life he’s created.

He is a man of several lives, with an adult family and an artistic mistress on the side. The movie has a coherent plot, but mainly it is a character study; during many points in the film, Robert Miller uses his power position as an excuse for what he’s done; that people are counting on him, his paychecks, his advice, and his continuity. There are several moments that reveal his true character, and at the beginning we are left in the dark, first stopping by a family gathering in celebration of his birthday, and then off to his late-night date, a rousing artist with an old man crush.

It’s hard not to like Robert, too. He’s a man who uses people at his disposal, a manipulating con-man whose tactics you can’t help but admire. He’s a free roaming form of Leonardo DiCaprio from ‘Catch Me If you Can’, but he’s evil and a deterrent to society and the values we stage. It’s always known when a man with well-backed finances is convicted of a crime: because the effects of it are so loud. And so, the men at the top are consistently guarded by politicians and other easily bribed figures; but one man, Det. Michael Bryer, is willing to get up on his toes and attempt to push Robert down. Det. Bryer is played by Tim Roth with a sort of Brooklyn go get em’ grit, and it is this hot head energy that ultimately postpones Robert’s demise.

The film boasts excellent performances from Richard Gere, and a much-needed character performance by Tim Roth; the intense energy of Roth’s role as detective Bryer prevents Arbitrage from becoming a grossly overwhelming study of a capitalist. Nate Parker has a side role also, as a young man who takes the fall for Robert’s circumstance, though I feel his acting is as disposable as his character. Too many gasps and cliché notions of loyalty: when all things close, Arbitrage is a movie with definite intelligence, but a few dramatic gaps.

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