Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Jim Toth and Britt Marling. Written by Nicholas Jarecki. Directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Produced by Mohammed Al Turki, Maria Teresa Arida, Michael Bederman, Laura Bickford, Ron Curtis, Marek Gabryjelski, Mike Heller, Justin Nappi, Anna Rozalska, Robert Salerno, Kevin Turen, Stanislaw Tyczynski, Lauren Versel and Brian Young.
Richard Gere has a quiet intelligence and disengenuous vibe that's perfect for playing a big New York hedgefund magnate in Arbitrage. He has a questionable code of ethics and takes this financial thriller to a completely different level. Scamming your way to the top, losing control of your power, stepping all over those closest to you – we've seen it all before and despite how intriguing it's all supposed to be to us, it can come off as really dull and overdone. But luckily in this movie, Gere raises the stakes and gives his character such dimension that it feels more like a psychological evaluation of a madman than a social commentary. His character, 60-year old Robert Miller, is fundamentally the worst person anyone could possibly be – he cheats on his wife, he inadvertently kills someone he loves, he lies to his daughter, he lies to his company and puts everyone close to him at risk in one way or another all for money which seems to be most dear to him – and still, after all that, we feel bad for him.
Miller finds himself in a bad position when he crashes his car, fatally wounding his mistress, and knowing it could disrupt the sale of his trading empire and reveal some old skeletons, he flees the scene. He attempts to cover all of his tracks, but people start asking questions and almost every facet of his life begins to implode on him despite his efforts to prevent it – the NYPD detective, Michael Bryer (Toth) is onto him and his wife, Ellen (Sarandon) knows more than she lets on and comes up with a plan that will cost him more than he expects. At this point, we should want to rip his head off or at least want to knock some sense into him, but we don't. We root for him to change and overcome these obstacles with minimal damage and receive forgiveness from all the people we know he doesn't deserve it from. And every time he doesn't do what we want him to do, we become that much more involved in the movie and try to put ourselves in his shoes and figure out what ultimately drives him, constantly pondering whether or not we'd do the same in his position.
Fortunately, this – combined with Jarecki's skillfully quick pacing and a good command of tone – makes up for a rather weak story and questionable ending and gives the movie an underlying emotional layer and personal relevance. Gere keeps us on our toes and surprises us with how relatable and realistic his character is – he does his best to offset a sometimes overly-dramatic and self-important script. A fueled portrait of privilege and what lies underneath the 'American dream' is made universally appealing and less aggressive with Gere's nuanced performance. Not everyone appreciates a story that's politically- and socially-charged, especially one with nothing new to offer, but everyone does enjoy an unpredictable story they can connect to on a personal and emotional level.