DIR/WRI: Nicholas Jarecki • PRO: Laura Bickford,
Robert Salerno, Kevin Turen, Justin Nappi • DOP: Yorick Le Saux • ED:
Douglas Crise • DES: Beth Mickle • Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim
Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker, Bruce Altman
As we look back over the past 12 months at some of the worst comedies
that have graced our cinema screens, there are two films that will
feature quite prominently. The Adam Sandler vehicle That’s My Boy and
the star-laden Movie 43 were widely panned by critics and audiences,
with the latter in particular sparking much debate about the
involvement of so many A-List performers in what was a seemingly
torturous experience for all concerned.
Theories have abounded as to how exactly the producers of Movie 43
(and indeed That’s My Boy) managed to secure the services of some many
talented actors and actresses, although Peter Farrelly’s explanation
that the participants of the former were ‘guilted to death’ is
probably the most plausible.
A-Listers appearing in films that seems well below their usual
standards is nothing new, however, and it is often suggested that they
agree to take part in certain films because they know a much more
worthy role is about to come their way.
Nicholas Jarecki’s debut feature, Arbitrage, could be viewed as one
such example, as it features top-of-the-range performances from Movie
43‘s Richard Gere and That’s My Boy star Susan Sarandon.
Gere takes on the role of Robert Miller, a multi-billionaire who
manages a hedge fund with his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), with
Sarandon co-starring as his long-suffering wife. With his 60th
birthday having just passed, Miller is locked in a deal to sell the
fund for an extremely large profit, but unbeknownst to those involved
in his company (including his own daughter), he has cooked his own
books in order to cover an investment loss, making his upcoming
transaction all the more crucial to his future.
If these dodgy dealings are discovered, he faces the possibility of
being imprisoned for fraud, but even greater trouble lurks on the
horizon for Miller when he is involved in a late-night car crash with
his mistress (Laetitia Casta). When she is killed as a result of the
impact, Miller abandons the scene (realising that he could be
implicated in her death), covers his tracks as much as possible, and
enlists the help of a friend from his past to drop him back to his New
His efforts to sweep this incident under the carpet are not entirely
successful, though, and the suspicion of his wife and NYPD detective
Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) are raised, leading to a hectic few days
for the troubled Miller.
On paper, the combination of novice filmmaker Jarecki and screen
veteran Richard Gere was a curious one that had the potential to
produce mixed results. However, it has turned out to be a winning
partnership as the 33-year-old Jarecki provides the tools for Gere to
construct one of the most engaging and richly textured performances of
his highly accomplished career to date.
In the past, his abilities as an actor has been the subject of intense
scrutiny, but Gere has always been at his best when playing conflicted
or morally ambiguous characters, with the most obvious examples being
his iconic roles in American Gigolo, Breathless, Internal Affairs and
Days of Heaven, as well as Lasse Hallstrom’s much underrated, The
The character of Robert Miller is very much in this mould, and the
Pennsylvania actor clearly relishes playing a man that has allowed
himself to become compromised on so many different levels.
However, one of the great traits that Gere has generated in his 38
years working in cinema is his likeability factor, and although there
are several moments throughout Arbitrage when your appreciation of a
two-timing, corrupt businessman are brought in to question, the Pretty
Woman star ensures that you symphatise heavily with his situation.
Arbitrage is by no means a solo effort, though, as Sarandon is also on
top form as the put upon spouse, who is not entirely enamoured with
the ventures that her husband and daughter are involved in, but
nonetheless benefits financially from her husband’s elevated status.
Marling (who is best known for strong central portrayal in the
indie-spirited Another Earth) provides plenty of brio and verve as
Miller’s offspring, while Roth is on hand to supply the appropriate
level of threat that the script requires.
There are occasional mis-steps in the overall package, but with strong
acting across the board, confident direction from Jarecki, and a
screenplay as sharp as anything you are likely to see in the early
months of 2013, Arbitrage is a highly accomplished offering from a
very promising director, and serves as a welcome reminder of what Gere
and Sarandon are capable of when they place themselves in the right
15A (see IFCO website for details)
Arbitrage is released on 1st March 2013