Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor
Cheating and scheming and lies, oh my! That’s just the first twenty minutes of Arbitrage, the psychological suspense thriller starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.
Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, a hedge fund CEO on the cover of Forbes, teetering on the brink of financial sabotage. We meet this seemingly committed husband, father, and grandfather at his 60th birthday party. His devoted wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) quietly suffers his duplicity when he leaves to celebrate with his art-dealer mistress Julie (Laetitia Casta). One bad decision leads to another and another. As the dominoes fall, the stress piles up on Robert like rotting garbage on a sweltering Manhattan summer day.
Robert is uber rich – rich from business gamble payouts, but poor in moral judgment and sensitivity, especially toward his CIO daughter Brooke (Brit Marling). When billionaire Robert crashes into trouble, the 1% turns to the 99%. He calls up Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), involving the young former felon in his secret life while simultaneously trying to protect him from it. Robert offers to pay Jimmy to reward him for his assumed loyalty.
Jimmy: “You think money’s gonna fix this?”
Robert: “What else is there?”
Proving how out of touch with the 99% Robert really is, when Jimmy tells him he saved enough money to invest in an Applebee’s, Robert asks, “What’s an Applebee’s?”
Cookin’ the Books
Arbitrage, written by Nicholas Jarecki, hits the screen in a timely fashion — on the heels of the latest Bernie Madoff/Ponzi scheme. Although the script is scant on certain relationship details, like how Robert knows Jimmy, it has meaty roles for actors. The stakes are high. In the hands of Oscar-nominated performers like Sarandon, the stakes are made even higher. Towards the end of the movie, as I was wondering if she would appear in any more scenes, she pops back in and delivers Robert a weighty ultimatum.
Gere manages to create a sympathetic character from deplorable actions. Above reproach, he truly believes he’s doing what’s best for the people in his life. Tim Roth plays Michael Bryer, a slightly irreverent and jaded detective who fights corruption with corruption. He echoes the frustration of a growing underclass. “These rich guys…they out-lawyer us; they out-spend us. I’m f’ing sick of it.”
Did Robert make a bad bet or did he commit fraud? Will anyone go to jail for this messy web of deception? Will Robert ever seek medical attention for his potentially broken ribs? Find out tonight.
Arbitrage opens in theatres September 14th. The official website is arbitrage-film.com.
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