Arbitrage is slickly made, ethically driven storytelling at its best with an outstanding Richard Gere delivering one of his best performances.
In Arbitrage, Gere plays hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller. Fat cats in general have always been held in disdain (especially those who made their money on Wall Street), and the Global Financial Crisis has seen that increase tenfold.
Robert Miller is indeed a man of unquestionable wealth. He has the lavish home, personal jet, slick Mercedes and his face on the cover of Forbes magazine. Yet as written by director Nicholas Jarecki and performed by Gere, Miller is as much a complex man as he is a powerful man.
On one hand he’s easy to despise, with his numerous dirty secrets – a mistress, the threat of bankruptcy and an accidental death by his hands – threatening to expose his shoddy nature. Then Jarecki does something only a skilful storyteller could: he makes Miller the cheat, the huckster and the killer a person of sympathy.
Rooting for the bad guy is not something new. Crime and horror cinema especially have their fair share of lovable villains. Cheering on the Devil himself, however is a different ballgame. Not saying that Miller is evil incarnate, but if the Seven Deadly Sins is a guideline to go by, then Miller’s shares in mortal sin is very healthy.
It’s the way Gere plays it too, at one moment in smooth silver fox mode and in another collapsing within himself in a panic, Gere using all of that squinty eye intensity and boyish charm in his arsenal in one of his best performances. (Unfortunately it’s not enough to secure Gere that ever elusive Oscar nomination).
Arbitrage marks Jarecki’s feature directing debut, and shows a filmmaker who can deliver character, entertainment value and much food for thought after the credits role. He also reveals a truth about human nature: given the right light, even an immoral man can obtain forgiveness especially in the movies.