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by Louise Adams
Monday Jan 14, 2013

For those who didn't get a degree in economics from Georgetown University, or worked for Goldman Sachs (both of which co-star Brit Marling did), arbitrage is a financial term describing taking advantage of an imbalance to achieve risk-free profit at zero cost. "Arbitrage" is also the 2012 movie; a Bernie Madoff revenge fantasy, tightly written and helmed by first-time director Nicholas Jarecki.

Richard Gere is dashing hedge fund manager Robert Miller, his outside polish barely containing a rotting core. His personal and financial juggling acts to maintain his filthy rich lifestyle collide as he struggles to sell his firm before his book-cooking surfaces, while he frantically covers up his own personal Chappaquiddick, callously implicating his chief investment officer, daughter Brooke (an excellent Marling), a former employee's son Jimmy (riveting Nate Parker), and providing much discomfort to his lawyer Syd (solid Stuart Margolin).

Miller appears to care for his legit and covert families, also including wife Ellen (a confident Susan Sarandon) and her charities, and art gallerist mistress Julie (Laetitia Casta), yet his loyalties primarily lie with his capital. When young African-American ex-con Jimmy initially takes the heat for Miller's felony, the rich man attempts to buy off the poor one. Jimmy asks, "You think money's gonna fix this?" Miller replies, "What else is there?"

The Blu-ray of the 107-minute film includes commentary with writer/director Jarecki, and deleted scenes with optional director commentary. Two short featurettes, which could have been combined into one as both cover the making of the film and focus on Gere, are "A Glimpse into 'Arbitrage' and 'Who is Robert Miller?'" Watching this a few days after AIG threatened to sue the Fed over its $182.3 billion bailout, this timely tale echoes the real world, where one-percenters, even while being fĂȘted for philanthropy, continue to get away with murder.


Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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