'Arbitrage' (2012) Movie Review

Power rules all! Not necessarily a profound statement wouldn't you say? This is the ledge on which Arbitrage teeters as it boasts some great performances, but in the end doesn't pack quite the wallop of a punch I felt it was preparing to deliver. Twists in the narrative are, at first, jarring and then intriguing, but ultimately deliver a lot of the same old themes on the value of power over circumstance as a wealthy businessman sets out to protect himself and his family from financial ruin, but an unexpected disaster threatens the process.

Grade: B-

Arbitrage"Arbitrage" is a Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions release, directed by Nicholas Jarecki. This film has not yet been rated by the MPAA. The running time is .

The cast includes Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker and Laetitia Casta.

For more information on this film including pictures, trailers and a detailed synopsis click here.

There are a lot of ways to spoil the story here so I'll be as brief as possible in the details. At the center of it all is hedge fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere), ridiculously wealthy and employing both of his children (Brit Marling and Austin Lysy), we begin the film learning Robert is attempting to sell his business to a major bank. A certain level of urgency initially leads us to wonder just what exactly is going on, only to learn some fraudulent activity on the books could derail the entire deal.

First impressions would lead you to believe Robert is a solid family man, close with his kids and keeps his wife (Susan Sarandon) happy at home. But it's quickly revealed he's having an affair on the side with a French art-dealer (Laetitia Casta) and from there a bigger picture of just what kind of life Robert leads is unearthed.

Arbitrage explores just how far money can get someone. What will people do for money? What won't they ask? What can money really buy? In this equation money is power and even the most innocent of people can fall prey to a few extra dollars in their pocket, hiding the truth or simply not asking questions in fear of the answer. It's a film in which almost no one is innocent, which is its one truly great aspect.

Gere is solid in the lead role, looking older than he has in the past, allowing that confident air, he seems to naturally radiate, subside, allowing his character to come down to a more human level. I can see age being kind to Gere, whose always been known and looked at as the suave and debonair cock of the walk. Allowing some of that appearance to fall by the wayside and showing a slight crack in the veneer opens him up a little bit and makes his character more accessible and any kind of empathy felt toward his character here helps the plot immensely.

In supporting roles, both Tim Roth as a New York City detective and Nate Parker, whose role I won't disclose here, are both excellent. Roth's slouching posture and no BS attitude is a lot of fun to watch and Parker's performance is energetic and never misses a beat. Parker's character is important in several ways, most important of which is the "Do you believe him?" angle to the story that says a lot about more than just one of the characters, not to mention the audience members themselves.

Arbitrage serves as the narrative feature directorial debut for writer/director Nicholas Jarecki and he's proven here to be a talent to watch. The film makes for an easy comparison to J.C. Chandor's feature debut Margin Call from last year. While I would say Margin Call was a better film overall, both have their strengths and both show Jarecki and Chandor can attract, and get the most out of, a talented cast of actors.

While I won't say Arbitrage is a must see in theaters, it's definitely a film worth giving a look as you not only get to watch a few great performances, but get in on the ground floor of a potentially great up-and-coming writer and director.