Arbitrage

Directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Graydon Carter 15A cert, general release, 106 min

Directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Graydon Carter 15A cert, general release, 106 min

Fri, Mar 1, 2013, 00:00

Directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Graydon Carter 15A cert, general release, 106 min

Richard Gere is brilliantly perfect as a cynical master of the universe, writes DONALD CLARKE

To be fair to the occasionally maligned Richard Gere, the great man has appeared in a wide range of differently flavoured films: think Days of Heaven, Pretty Woman and I’m Not There. But his natural milieu is, perhaps, the slick, upmarket urban thriller. Nobody is better at helping glamorous women from limos while wearing a smile that suggests murder is brewing.

Nicholas Jarecki’s feature debut is among the best such movies that Gere has made. A member of the film-making clan that also includes Andrew and Eugene, Jarecki has serious points to make. His title is well chosen: the protagonist, a hedge-fund manager, juggles moral debts in much the same way he manages financial liabilities. As the film progresses and Gere’s Robert Miller seeks to abuse power in the evasion of justice, the director allows traces of righteous anger to show through.

Arbitrage is, however, never anything other than gripping, and Gere deserves much of the credit for its success. What we have here is a 21st-century variation on the 1980s yuppie nightmare drama (okay, Gere is hardly young, but otherwise the comparison works).

A cynical master of the universe, slicker than any man could be unless Richard Gere were playing him also, Robert Miller eventually suffers serious inconvenience when he crashes his car and kills his mistress. He staggers back to the family home and, later, enlists an ex-con in his scheme to cover-up the catastrophe. It all looks to be going well, but detective Tim Roth – a more aggressive Colombo – has “just one more question” for the suave financier.

Where Arbitrage diverges from its 1980s models is in its suggestion that no nightmare could now be sufficiently awful to seriously inconvenience the current batch of money magicians. Gere can, of course, carry off that carapace of entitlement. But, as age advances, he now also allows in just a hint of vulnerability. We are persuaded to root for Miller, even when he is betraying the people he loves best.

You’ll feel dirty, and well you should after a few hours in this company. Thumbs up.

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