Charismatic shark. Urban predator. Self-serving Wall Street bastard.
I was intrigued by the descriptions of New York hedge fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) that appeared in different reviews of Arbitrage. After watching the film, I agreed with all of them.
The morally bankrupt financier conducts his business and personal affairs with cool deliberation. When the film opens, Miller is rushing home to celebrate his 60th birthday at a family dinner. As he reigns over the table, he tosses out praise and promises, but his thoughts are elsewhere. Several hours later, he meets up with his mistress, French gallery owner Julie, who demands more of a commitment from him.
To appease Julie, Miller invites her to drive with him to his family’s weekend home. On the way, he falls asleep at the wheel and crashes the car, leaving the woman dead. Miller appears visibly upset, but we quickly learn that he is more concerned about how this mishap will affect his latest financial deal.
Having illegally borrowed more than $400 million to cover up a gaping hole in his company’s financial records, Miller awaits a federal audit and the decision of a tycoon (Graydon Carter). He asks Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), a young man who feels beholden to Miller, to help him cover his tracks after the accident. Everything appears to be working to plan until a detective (Tim Roth) starts sniffing around.
Richard Gere delivers an award-winning performance that has already been recognized by the Golden Globes. Throughout the film, he maintains that unflappable air of a man who can easily negotiate killer deals, ruin lives and make charitable donations.
An excellent film made even more compelling by the ambiguous ending.