Making a killing in the stock market may be taking on a whole new meaning lately, if the many collateral damage victims of financial robber baron recklessness get factored in, at least symbolically. But the slickly conceived, shady moral thriller Arbitrage brings that notion to a new level during the ongoing national economic crisis, in terms of One Percent deceit, casualties and coverups, in what might be termed Wall Street Noir.
Arbitrage as a movie title may confound audiences, but maybe that’s the point. An inner circle shop talk, kind of insider trading manipulation of money moving through the stock exchange, arbitrage as both movie subject and title, metaphorical and otherwise, intimates a secretive financial world from which the rest of us tend to be both excluded and manipulated.
Which is exactly the subdued yet no less ruthlessly toxic narrative thread winding its way through Arbitrage, like predatory sharks gliding silently through treacherous waters. And embracing this role in the film with all the required charismatic cunning, is the never less than fascinating and magnetic master of dashing duplicity on screen, Richard Gere.
Gere is Robert Miller in Arbitrage, an enormously wealthy prominent Wall Street stock broker caught up in a seemingly cozy love triangle about to self-destruct. And involving a tangled threesome of Miller, a number of interchangeable deceived women, and well, money.
And among those women are Miller’s socialite wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon), who is hip to his serial adultery but has settled into pampered domestic docility; his increasingly impatient current lover Julie (Laetitia Casta) making demands for more quality time together, and consoling herself snorting coke on the side; and Miller’s adult daughter and far too trusting business partner Brooke (Brit Marling), who may shortly end up being screwed in a different sort of way by her devious dad.
And when the stock portfolio hits the fan, so to speak, along with Miller’s other sidebar sinister dealings in his personal life, a crime caper kicks in with Tim Roth as the persistent detective on to the teflon tycoon. Along with elements as elusive and daring in hunting down a Wall Street suit, as any mobster action thriller.
And while Gere presides with above the law supreme command but slowly crumbling self-confidence, over his character’s double or even triple life. And counting a covert egocentric dark side extending even into the inner city, and thoughtlessly engulfing those considered disposable in the underclass, who have loyally served him.
Arbitrage sustains taut psychological suspense throughout in the capable hands of helmer Nicholas Jarecki (The Informers). Though with a conclusion more meandering and unresolved than dramatically explosive. And who knows, perhaps a reflection of the enduring enigma surrounding what to actually do about high finance crimes, in the real world.