Writer/Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Nate Parker
Robert Miller (Gere) is celebrating his birthday with wife Ellen (Sarandon), daughter Brooke (Marling), and plenty of grandchildren. What they don’t know is that after the cake, he will claim to be going back to work when in reality he will sneak off to be with Julie (Casta), the young beautiful artist he is having an affair with. He met her as he is one of the investors in her gallery. She is the kind of mistress that wants the man to be solely with her. She begs him to leave his wife to be with her instead. He is a billionaire running a huge investment corporation. His daughter happens to be the CFO of the company. Robert and Brooke are heavily involved in a massive merger with another company. A smart person would wonder why Robert would get himself involved in a girl like Julie that could seriously go wrong at any point. Oh that’s right. Many of these Robert Miller types think they are invincible and can have it all in life: money, family, and a mistress on the side.
The pieces start to crumble for Robert. Business is not going well for the merger. Brooke realizes there is a huge portion of money that is unaccounted for in the books that could have disastrous repercussions. Julie is furious on how absent Robert is in their faux relationship. In order to please her, he decides he shall run away with her. Their plan takes a sudden turn for the worse when Robert falls asleep behind the wheel and the car runs into the side rails. It completely rolls over numerous times leaving Julie dead and Robert injured with some cuts, bruises, and potential internal bleeding. Robert knows that if anyone were to find out he was involved with Julie’s death it would be damaging to his family and career. The car explodes just as Robert is walking away from the scene. He tries taking all of the right steps to not get caught. He knows not to use his cell phone that could trace him back to the scene. Instead he uses a pay phone to call Jimmy Grant (Parker), a young man who is connected to some favors Miller has performed in the past. Jimmy picks Robert up and takes him back home.
Officer Bryer (Roth) is the lead investigator in the explosion and quickly traces it back to Robert as he is one of Julie’s investors. He knows all too well that Robert is involved and believes he killed her. He questions Robert, Ellen, and Jimmy desperately trying to uncover all of Robert’s corruption. Robert knows he is in way over his head and that his career and family are in severe jeopardy. When you let money and greed completely mess up your life, you have to ask yourself who knows what and who can you trust.
In what easily could have been your standard legal thriller, Arbitrage raises the bar to become a sharp and complex story filled with characters that should not be taken for granted. Roth consistently plays the evil, sinister bad guy. On the outside you could easily take Officer Bryer for that, but he really is playing the good cop trying to uncover the corruption behind Miller. In most movies, you want to root for the main character, but the twist here is that the main character is a disgraceful human being. Gere brings a multi-layered approach to Miller asking the audience to have sympathy for him when you know you should not. He is the whole reason for the crash and corruption. He completely ruins his family and company. Sarandon gives another solid and strong performance. You do not find the standard naive wife with her character. Jarecki has written and directed a smart story with enough turns to keep you guessing but not too many that make it seem outrageous and gimmicky. Arbitrage is now playing in theaters as well as on video on demand.
RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)