Posted by: greercn | March 3, 2013

Arbitrage

“Arbitrage” is a very entertaining movie. It will keep you engrossed in it in exactly the same way that good glossy American soap operas pull you in.

Arbitrage is the buying of something of financial value and selling it on for a higher price. The feeding frenzy around profits made from tin shacks in the southern states (and other bizarre investments) is how the masters of the universe caused the banking system meltdown, for which reason public services are being cut and the bankers continue to get huge bonus payments.

Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.

For arbitrage to work, you have to make a profit on the resale.

“Arbitrage” the movie is part “Wall Street”, “NYPD Blue” and “Bonfire of the Vanities”, all wrapped up in one sleek and purring package which will remind you of “Dynasty” or “Dallas”, if you’re old enough to remember those, first time round.

When we meet Robert Miller, we learn very quickly that he isn’t a very nice person but he’s rich and handsome and charming. Richard Gere has one of his best roles in years as the financial guy struggling to hide a hole in his accounts and save the day by selling out, quickly, before the gap is noticed.

Despite being married to Ellen (Susan Sarandon), he’s cheating with Julie, played by France’s very lovely Laetitia Casta.

I think Susan Sarandon is tons more beautiful that Laetitia, but nobody asked me to cast this.

Tim Roth plays a persistent NYC detective – is there anything else in Hollywood, other than corrupt or obsessed – and he’s just dandy.

Nate Parker is super in a bit part, caught up in Miller’s drama and Graydon Carter is cast as the buyer of Miller’s business and is great in one scene of pure genius.

Brit Marling as Robert’s daughter Brooke got on my nerves. She’s supposed to be brilliant, but she’s shocked by daddy’s shenanigans? Where did she think her lifestyle came from?

But logic has no place in soap operas and that’s what this is. It’s effective on the level of showing a believable luxury lifestyle and the music (Cliff Martinez) and photography (Yorick Le Saux) pull it all together with nice atmosphere.

Director and writer Nicholas Jarecki has the knack of keeping everything moving forward quickly and seamlessly and his dialogue always feels real.

Should you go see it? The audience at Stratford East Picturehouse all seemed to like it very much. I did too, although I don’t think much will stay with me apart from Nate Parker’s performance.

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Responses

  1. I saw this on Friday – It worked for me and was very compelling to watch as long as it lasted but like you say it’s not a movie that really sticks with you after you have seen it.

    It’s not a film that burns into the memory but one I would probably watch again because of how satisfyingly well it comes together.

    I’d say it’s a very well made film in a difficult world to make emotionally interesting – corporate business. I think they achieved that by focusing more on Miller’s personal problems, relationships and dilemmas rather than just the numbers on his company’s financial reports. It made Miller a person rather than just a faceless corporate entity: so you care more about the situations he finds himself in.

    Cool review ! 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, the details and the emotions add a lot to this.


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