As we’re all heading towards the end of the holidays, the urge to leave the house as little as possible can become overwhelming as we look at the window and we know what we have to look forward to in the weeks ahead. Many people will stayed holed up watching movies until the last possible minute and if you need a good one there has been a fair share that have finally hit home video . Available now is a surprising return form from a veteran on screen presence. It’s time for “Arbitrage”.
Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling
Written & Directed by Nicolas Jarecki
In “Arbitrage” when we first meet New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Gere) on the eve of his 60th birthday, he appears the very portrait of success in American business and family life. However behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed. While Miller is struggling to conceal his duplicity from loyal wife Ellen (Sarandon), brilliant daughter and heir-apparent Brooke (Marling), he’s also balancing an affair with and attractive young French art-dealer. Just as he’s about to unload his troubled empire, an unexpected bloody error forces him to juggle family, business, and crime with the aid of a face from Miller’s past. One wrong turn ignites the suspicions of NYPD Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth), who will stop at nothing in his pursuits to take down this man of privilege and power. Running on borrowed time, Miller is forced to confront the limits of even his own moral duplicity and make decisions that he never thought he’d have to make.
The sins of greed and avarice run incredibly deep in “Arbitrage” making for a fairly compelling and intense thriller making for a bold statement from a debut director. Jarecki does a master full job at roping you in as the tension slowly but surely builds to a fear pitch as we follow this clearly unlikable character as he scrambles to stay one step ahead of everything that could ruin him. Beautifully shot, the city streets of New York come across with a dark and foreboding tone giving the proceedings a very gothic and even Victorian tone as we see the struggles that staying in the halls of power can produce. It’s a gripping thriller wrapped in a fascinating character study, with a great ensemble and a lead who stepped up to the plate to deliver some of his best work in years.
Richard Gere slinks into the skin of Robert Miller so easily that it’s actually a little scary. As he exudes an arrogant, smarmy yet all the while affable charm, Gere commands the screen for every single second that he is on camera. This character was a sociopath who simply did what he wanted when he wanted, with no conscience or thought towards any of the potential side effects that his actions may have had and Gere made him despicable and likeable all at the same time. Tim Roth as Detective Michael Bryer was a great understated foil, a sociopath in his own right who wanted this man that thought he was above reproach to go down in the most humiliating way possible and pay for a myriad of crimes the actual ones and the social one. They didn’t share a terrible amount of screen time together but there characters were both a wonderful yin and yang to this story. Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling as his wife and daughter respectively both bring wonderful gravitas to the screen as they have to deal with man that for better or for worse is the leader of their family and they give a great glimpse at how even the ones closest to these men have to navigate the minefield of these men’s own self-importance.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are first rate as per the norm and the special features on this Combo Pack release include feature length audio commentary from writer/director Nicolas Jarecki, 2 behind the scenes featurettes and deleted scenes with optional commentary from Nicolas Jarecki.
There are some minor things that could be tweaked here or there in “Arbitrage” but it is a really unique film as stories like this usually provide us with an overblown character much like a Gordon Gekko in the “Wall Street” films, but Gere turns his Robert Miller into a real person. This is a man that no matter how much his power and influence will get him, he will always run the risk of losing and that’s what makes it so fascinating to watch.
4 out of 5 stars.
“Arbitrage” is now available for rent on demand or on DVD and Blu-Ray at your favorite video stores across the country, it’s also available for purchase at all major retailers like iTunes, amazon.ca and HMV.
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