Review: Arbitrage in which Richard Gere plays a hedge fund magnate

Deepa Deosthalee

“World events revolve around five things – M-O-N-E-Y" quips Gekkoesque billionaire fund manager Robert Miller (Richard Gere)  to CNN on the eve of his 60th birthday in the 2012 Hollywood drama Arbitrage.

Evidently, Miller really believes this adage. For, after a dramatic turn of events in his personal and professional life, when even Miller with all his wealth, clout and acumen finds himself pushed to the wall, a young African-American who has staked his life for him asks, "Do you think money is gonna fix this?", he readily retorts, "What else is there?"

In the words of director Nicholas Jarecki, "Miller is a charmer and an operator, he’s also a cutthroat shark."

Richard Gere as Robert Miller in 2012 Hollywood film Arbitrage
Richard Gere as Robert Miller in 2012 Hollywood film Arbitrage
Image: YouTube (LionsgateVOD)

He simultaneously juggles a messy financial situation in his company (in other words, a colossal fraud), a complicated relationship with his French mistress (Laetitia Casta) and a seemingly well-adjusted family life with a wife (Susan Sarandon) who appears to dote on him (or at least ignore his transgressions) and a daughter (Brit Marling) who worships him and is his business partner and successor.

All three women pull him in different directions and Miller finds himself spinning in a vortex of lies and bad choices, yet is somehow convinced that he'll beat the odds.

Is Arbitrage a metaphor for our messy times tarnished by mega financial frauds? It certainly seems to be. But beyond the indictment of big money, it's a great old-fashioned thriller about an accident and a cover-up, a human drama about moral choices (it's not just Miller who has to make them, there are several others) and of love and betrayal. It's stylish in every way -- taut screenplay, crisp dialogues and lush cinematography. 

Gere's character Miller is handsome, dashing, cool, super-confident and likable. Even though you can't help judge him, you don't want him to lose the game. It's among gere’s most-affecting performances.

While Sarandon and Marling aren't given much material to play with, both have one scene each, in which they dazzle. An excellent supporting cast includes Tim Roth as a New York detective determined to uncover the truth (or bring the rich to book) and especially, Nate Parker as Jimmy, an unsuspecting youth who gets inextricably embroiled in Miller's web of deceit.

Arbitrage is a superb debut from a self-assured young director and easily one of the best Hollywood releases this year.

Deepa Deosthalee is a film critic and a regular contributor to Cinemascope column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and does not reflect the views or position of More of Deepa's work can be found on her site Film Impressions


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