ACCORDING to actor Richard Gere in a Guardian newspaper interview this week, deceit, dishonesty and greed are characteristics that are
ACCORDING to actor Richard Gere in a Guardian newspaper interview this week, deceit, dishonesty and greed are characteristics that are inherent somewhere in all of us.
Well, that may or may not be the case, but it is certainly true of all the characters in Arbitrage. Not one of them, regardless of their social standing, could you trust and, if Gere is right, are we actually recognising ourselves on the big screen?
The film is all about big business and the deceit and lies that go with it. At the centre of it all is Robert Miller, played by Gere, a billionaire hedge fund tycoon with the lavish lifestyle to match: private jet, sumptuous home, good-looking, loyal wife (Susan Sarandon) and a beautiful, intelligent daughter (Brit Marling) who also works alongside him.
But behind all the glitz, Miller’s world is about to shatter. He’s whittled away more than $400 million of investors’ money in a Russian copper mine which won’t deliver, and has fiddled his company’s books to hide the gaping hole. Meanwhile, he’s frantically trying to close a deal to sell his empire to a major bank before the depth of his fraud is revealed.
A family man — or so he wants the world to believe — the suave and smooth-talking Miller wants his cake and to eat it, too. Oh, and he’s also cheating on his wife with French art dealer, Julie. It’s while he’s driving her late at night that he dozes off, crashes the car and Julie is killed that his life really begins on the downward spiral. On the one hand, he could be facing a jail sentence for fraud, on the other, an even longer one for culpable manslaughter. So what to do?
After initial panic, he regains his sang-froid and instead of calling the emergency services, he walks away from the accident to ring Jimmy (Nate Parker), a young black guy and the son of his former chauffeur, asking him to pick him up and take him home.
Jimmy becomes implicated by association in Miller’s crime and when the police, in the form of scruffy Colombo-style NYPD detective Bryer (Tim Roth), start sniffing, Miller shows his true colours — he has no qualms if Jimmy takes the rap.
Gere, quite rightly, has been lauded for his insightful portrayal of the elegant, handsome, power-hungry Miller.
He’s absolutely inside the skin of this character, oozing charm and magnetism through every pore, willing you to empathise and root for everything to get sorted so he can live happily ever after.
However, despite Gere’s charm and charisma, I found myself unable to warm to this person who would stop at nothing to get himself off the hook and, if he didn’t, take friends, colleagues, even his daughter, down with him.
Written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki, the son of two New York commodities traders, this is a slick movie although not exactly the “taut, suspense thriller” the pre-publicity would have us believe.
However, it does show the depths to which people will lie and scheme, leaving us with the stark message that everyone has his price.
Released: March 1
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth and Nate Parker