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Dan's Review: Arbitrage

Yeah, yeah...rich guys are bad (yawn).
Arbitrage (Roadside Attractions)

Rated R for language, brief violent images and drug use.

Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Nate Parker, Stuart Margolin, Chris Eigeman, Graydon Carter, Bruce Altman, Larry Pine, Curtiss Cook, Reg E. Cathey, Felix Solis, Tibor Feldman.

Written and Directed by Nicholas Jarecki.

GRADE: C+

REVIEW:


Rich guys are evil...I GET IT ALREADY, Hollywood (and independent film world). I thought we gave up on the boring "business drama" film a few decades ago, but some folks still find time an money to produce movies about filthy rich people who are up to no good. They even saw a need for a Wall Street sequel 24 years since after the original was released (Gordon Gecko is apparently relevant after the Madoff scandal).

This time, director/writer Nicholas Jarecki tells a tale of deception and power in Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere as a hedge fund magnate on the brink of ruin. Gere plays Robert Miller, an extremely wealthy businessman and father whose daughter Brooke (Brit Marling) also works for his firm. Despite all his success, Miller is cheating his associates to the degree of $400 million (to cover up a failed investment) while cheating on his wife (Susan Sarandon) with a beautiful French artist named Julie (Laetitia Casta).

When Julie is killed in crash during a getaway tryst with Robert, he walks away from the burning car and calls upon Jimmy (Nate Parker), the son of an old friend to pick him up in upstate New York and to help cover up Julie's death.

As police detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) gets closer and closer to Miller, the powerful rich guy's lies begin to pile up, risking his wealth, his family, his friends and his freedom. Miller must manipulate and scheme until he has to decide between losing everything of worldly value over the trust of the people he loves (and and often uses).

Arbitrage is often boring and laden with all the "evil rich guy" cliches seen in similar films (amoral, philandering, uncaring lead character) like Wall Street. Richard Gere seems destined to play such affluent characters, and Arbitrage might pass as a Pretty Woman sequel, 22 years later (only now, Gere's character is cheating on his  former prostitute wife, and he's back to being a jaded amoral businessman).

Either way, Arbitrage is a whole lot of "seen it before" with predictable moral outcomes (either our so-called protagonist gets away with it and learns nothing, or he gets his comeuppance). Gere offers up a pedestrian performance, bolstered by above average work from Sarandon and Marling.

If I were you, I'd trade up for something more original, and more relevant at the multi-plex this weekend.



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