Arbitrage – The Movie
Boy, posting on this one is going to be hard without sounding the spoiler alert…
Well, here goes.
With the missus out of town, I chanced upon this one on pay per view on a Saturday night. I think she would have wanted to see it – not for my economic/political interests in the flick, but because she's a Susan Sarandon fan. Still, the movie is virtually all Richard Gere's – he plays robert Miller, a hedge fund kingpin, but one with something of a conscience and a heart.
Miller has been wanting to make a last killing, on a copper mine, before bowing out of the biz and (hopefully) turning everything over to his financial whiz daughter. But there's something of a cash flow problem, and some hanky panky with a young woman art dealer. Of course, both situations get out of control, and the remainder of the movie is built around the ensuing suspense as Miller tries to manage his crises.
Three things interested me about the movie as I watched it, and afterward as I sought to make sense of the abruptly ending tale: I thought, as the romantic crisis heats up, that this is a movie clone of a rather famous political tryst, but that isn't the case. I'm hesitant to let that cat out of the bag to any greater degree, but Tim Roth plays the overreaching cop in trying to place blame where it's obviously meant to be.
Second, the acting is nuanced and real-life – Gere playing the wheeler dealer, Sarandon, playing his family-protective wife, Ellen. I had the sense that both were improvising script a lot, possibly acting out aspects of their own lives. Since the movie was largely Gere's vehicle, Sarandon had to sublimate her script and her acting to his, and in such situations, said actor has to pick her spot to shine. Sarandon does this, without upstaging or undermining – the skill of a consummate actor.
And third, the movie is a morality play without seeming so. You see, no one's a clear-cut villain or hero; consequently the story deals with ambiguities akin to those we all slog through in real life. And the real arbitrage of the story has more to do with family than a financial empire.
Arbitrage has all the elements of a finely done movie: fine acting, a thoughtful premise, and a clever story line. Well worth a couple hours of your time.
My rating: 18 of 20 stars