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Review: 'Arbitrage'

Richard Gere in top form in this financial thriller.

I’ll say this much for Richard Gere. He looks great. Were it not for the gray hair and a few tell-tale extreme close-ups, he could be the same actor of American Gigolo and Looking for Mr. Goodbar of decades past. No actor I know of has Gere’s signature walk; a predatory, panther-like swagger that suggests power, sex and invulnerability with each step.

Although effective and apt for his younger roles, it now seems, frankly age-inappropriate in much the same way as his co-star wife, Susan Sarandon, reveals her bared shoulder (and a very athletic one at that) while on the treadmill in their fabulous East-side New York apartment. I guess it’s true; the rich not only get richer, they get buffer and more toned than the rest of us working stiffs. 

  • Arbitrage is one of the movies playing this week at Regency Agoura Stadium 8 Cinemas.

That quibbling aside, Arbitrage offers some decent, if not inspiring, escape for two plus hours. The city looks beautiful, the clothes are great, all the venues are super-glam, all the restaurants–including the famed The Four Seasons–to-die-for. Money has its perks. So, what’s not to like? 

The woman sitting next to me at the showing I attended, sighed at the end and turned to her husband and said “Well, it was just a game of Chess, wasn’t it?" I am giving this woman credit. I couldn’t have summed it up better myself.

Gere is Robert Miller, a hedge-fund manager and jet-setter, whose every waking moment is consumed with his status position in the high stakes financial world he inhabits with obvious hunger and glee. He makes the famous maxim “Greed is good” from Wall Street his credo.

Set amongst and amid the high-stakes financial world of wheeling and dealings among the mega-rich, the film makes more than a passing nod to Donald Trump’s world; Miller’s children work for him and the daughter Brooke (an excellent Brit Marling) could be a dead-ringer for the “Donald’s” own Ivanka.

The tried-and-true formulaic screenplay, of course, includes the “girlfriend” on the side, in this case, a very high-strung, SoHo gallery owner, Parisian beauty, Laetitia Casta (Julie Cote), whom Miller manages to rendezvous with at every opportunity.

A planned overnight tryst turns tragic and deadly on a suburban road and Arbitrage takes off on the twists and turns of “will he or won’t he be caught?” 

Tim Roth is effective channeling Peter Falk’s Columbo of the TV series as Detective Michael Bryer. There’s one truly original and unexpected plot twist involving a Harlem youth, Jimmy Grant, a truly wonderful Nate Parker. It seems Jimmy owes Miller a debt of gratitude for getting him out of a jam years back and his performance is persuasive and moving as he becomes an unwitting accomplice to Miller’s increasingly complex web of deception and lies.  

Arbitrage moves at full speed towards its more-or-less expected conclusion. All the requisite police lingo–the profanity-laced confrontations among attorneys and wife and kids–proceed as smoothly and slickly as Gere’s immaculately groomed hair and wardrobe. The veteran actor is in control from start to finish.  For an escapist entertainment, who could want more?

Jeff Klayman is an award-winning playwright whose works have been produced in New York, Los Angeles and London. He also wrote the screenplay for the independent film Adios, Ernesto, directed by Mervyn Willis.

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