Richard Gere in “Arbitrage”: Morality and money

Richard Gere in Nicholas Jarecki's film Arbitrage

Richard Gere in Nicholas Jarecki's film Arbitrage Lion's Gate Films/Myles Aronowitz

By Tashi Wangchuk | Tibet Sun

ON THE WEB, 30 September 2012

With all the rave reviews and buzz over Richard Gere’s new film “Arbitrage”, I couldn’t resist watching this semi-fictional story about the notorious Bernard Madoff who embezzled over $65 billion in the largest financial fraud ever recorded in US history. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers commended the film as “first rate; a powerful feature debut boasting an Oscar-caliber Richard Gere firing on all cylinders.”

So I hurried towards a nearby theater with bar, bought my ticket, grabbed the largest beer and excitedly went to see the movie. “This is going to be one of the coolest moments of my life,” I thought as I sat two rows from the screen, holding my beer bottle. However, after I sipped some beer and sunk into my seat, the film rolled — and I woke up with audience applauding and leaving. It felt stupid to have slept throughout and missed the whole film. It was my lack of sleep the night before that put me to sleep. However, I was determined to watch “Arbitrage”, as Gere only stars in movies once a while. So the very next day, I went to the theatre, bought my ticket, determined not to fall asleep.

“Arbitrage” is the first feature assignment of Nicholas Jarecki, a documentary filmmaker who graduated from the New York University film school at the age of 19. According to the film’s official website, Nicholas is best described as an innovative, provocative filmmaker whose work focuses on larger-than-life characters and morally ambiguous themes of industry, power, and corruption. Jarecki financed the film himself, which also stars Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, and Brit Marling.

In “Arbitrage”, Richard Gere plays hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller, who is desperately trying to sell his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed. The film is about the race between morality and money. Although money wins, it is the morality that triumphs ultimately. The film opens with Gere being interviewed by a news reporter with Hifi TV equipment. He then travels on a luxurious private jet, meets his warm and extended family members who anxiously await his arrival for a birthday surprise. Very soon we get to see the dark side of Miller, who is already reeling under his financial malpractices and an affair with his mistress. He is further sucked into the vortex of complexity when his car bumped onto a curb that would kill his mistress while on a secret trip. It is now Michael Bryer (played by Tim Roth), the hawk-eyed detective’s turn to expose Miller and his crime.

Gere’s performance as Miller is simply stunning and real, in his classy and finely-ironed black suit. His white shirt coupled with his silvery hair, adds aura to Gere’s already Godfatherly look. Miller coming out of a building with the wind blowing all over his face is something not to be missed. In Gere’s career so far as an actor, I found the Miller character by far the best, even better than Edward Lewis of “Pretty Woman” and Zack of “The Officer and Gentleman”. Recently during one of his candid interviews on TV, Gere told viewers that he is now hated by some of his best friends for throwing humanity into the notorious personality he played in “Arbitrage”. I’m sure Mr. New Yorker will be among the strongest contenders for the year’s Oscar. Tim Roth, Susan Sarandon, and Brit Marling were all equally praiseworthy for their work. However, it is Nate Parker who actually stole my sympathy with his outstanding performance as Jimmy Grant. The film could have been much better if someone younger, sexier, and more seductive than Laetitia Casta could have played Miller’s mistress. But this is the only downside that I could possibly think of with this film.

The pace of the story is tight, engaging, and above all intricately written. I always credit a writer (Jarecki himself) more than the director when it comes to a quality cinema. Good film is only possible if the story is engaging, and not vice versa. The background score running throughout the film pushes the story and characters to a new level. Yorick Le Saux’s cinematography is fresh, the color rich and utterly beautiful. Hats off to the entire cast and crew for making such a marvelous film! Tashi Delek!

About the author

Tashi Wangchuk is a Washington DC-based independent filmmaker and TV producer, whose earlier work includes the feature-length film "Richard Gere is My Hero" and India's Doorshan commissioned film, "Democracy in Exile".

Copyright © 2012 Tashi Wangchuk Published in Tibet Sun Posted in Features » Tags: , ,