¨How much money do we need? Do you want to be the richest guy in the cemetery? ¨
Richard Gere has had a very respectable career as an actor, but in my opinion I think he has finally delivered his best performance in Arbitrage. This thriller would have been just an average movie if it wasn’t for Gere´s portrayal of a fund magnate in a lot of trouble who somehow manages to keep his cool. There is something about Gere´s performance in this film that stands out. As much as I tend to dislike these business millionaires and despite all the immoral decisions his character makes there was something about his performance that made me want him to get away with the crimes he´s committed. I found myself routing for the bad guy, and it was only plausible thanks to Gere´s performance. This is perhaps one of my top three performances of the year and I think Richard Gere should finally get some recognition for his work here. Young director, Nicholas Jarecki, has burst into Hollywood with this first feature film which has received a lot of praise from critics. I was really trapped by this thriller thanks in most part to Richard Gere because otherwise I really wouldn’t care for this character who on paper should´ve been very unlikeable. Jarecki also wrote the screenplay for this film and produced it so he is someone to keep an eye on in the future. The rest of the cast is alright, but Gere´s performance is just above par.
Richard Gere plays a hedge fund magnate named Robert Miller who is trying to sell his trading empire. When his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling) asks him why he wants to sell the company, he says he wants to retire and spend time with his family, but very soon we find out he has other reasons. His wife Ellen is played by the great Susan Sarandon and she´s always supportive of her husband´s decisions as long as they don’t affect the family. Robert and Ellen seem to have the perfect family, but soon we discover that Robert has a mistress as well. She´s a young French painter named Julie (Laetitia Casta) who Robert has sponsored in order for her to make it big in the artistic world. We soon find out that Robert´s perfect life isn’t so as he has problems closing the sale of his company and is in desperate need of doing so. One night, after having an argument with his mistress Julie, the two decide to go for a ride together and end up in a car accident. Julie dies and Robert afraid of what the media or his family might say flees from the scene and calls a contact of his to pick him up. Things begin to get worse for Robert as police detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) begins investigating the case and asking him questions. Despite how bad things are turning up for Robert, he seems to keep a cool and control of everything. He begins to feel the pressure but he does a good job at hiding it and continuing to move on.
Arbitrage is a very formulaic thriller, something goes bad for the main character and the tension seems to escalate as we move forward, but in the end it stands out from other thrillers because of Richard Gere´s performance. He manages to keep the viewer interested in his outcome despite doing very unlikeable things. It would be hard to relate to a character like this, but Gere makes it look so easy. In the end that is what I enjoyed the most about this film despite the fact that Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth are both very much underused here. They are great actors, but get very little screen time. As the tension escalates, so does the suspense so in my opinion Jarecki does succeed in creating this atmosphere and setting the mood of the film. Arbitrage could be a forgettable film by the end of the year, but something tells me that Gere´s performance will be remembered. He deserves some recognition for his work here and it would be great if he receives a nomination from the Academy. Arbitrage isn’t a perfect movie, but if you like thrillers or are a fan of Richard Gere then you have to see it.