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From what we have learned most about the financial crisis of 2008 is that the British and American governments pretty much let Wall Street and The City get on with it, as long as they got their cut in taxes, a hefty £50 billion a year in the U.K. That sum is a tenth of the current GDP of Great Britain, all from one square mile. That’s why they leave them to get on with it, I suppose. We call it fraud but they call it risk management. As yet no one has been prosecuted for banking fraud in the United Kingdom, some £270 billion spent on bailing out the banks so far. In Northampton a young temporary postman was found guilty of ‘theft by finding’ after spending a £200 pound bundle of various shopping gift vouchers he claims he found in the street. He may well have nicked them out of the post at Christmas time but that wasn’t explored. He spent the money on clothes for his kids. His sentence is pending. You have to wonder about a legal system that goes after him and not the crooked bankers that broke this country.
This banking crisis business has proved fertile ground for movies, some good, Margin Call, some not so good, Wall Street Never Sleeps. Arbitrage is OK. Because this movie has a strong cast and Richard Gere is the star and Golden Globe Nominated for his performance, it got a high Rottentomatos rating and set the record for on-demand day-and-date sales (the cross platform simultaneous release) so I decided to check it out. Gere hasn’t really won many awards and his only success was a Golden Globe for Chicago (2002). He feels more significant than that. The film that really made him a star, Pretty Woman, was rather silly though, a clap ridden prostitute marrying a billionaire highly unlikely, even in Hollywood. But that’s the movies for you. Anyone can make it out of the gutter in Tinsel Town.
Wall Street multi millionaire Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is trying to sell his mining stocks trading company to rival bidder James Mayfield (Graydon Carter). But he has cooked the books by taking on an undisclosed bridging loan of $450 million dollars to make it look like the company is still profitable after an investment went badly wrong at the height of the credit crunch. The deal is quite literally a gold mine for the buyers, if they can get through this tricky trading period. Miller, in partnership with his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling), doesn’t want to sell as the later deals will treble the investment in the Ukraine but, unbeknown to Brooke, the business has fallen apart due to geopolitics. The only solution to keep everyone happy is to make it look like the company is still solvent and flog it on to an unsuspecting buyer.
Miller’s socialite wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) knows something is wrong but is keeping quiet until she thinks its time to tell her husband she knows and so take action. But with the pressure rising as the deal is stalled after Mayfield stops answering Millers calls and the bridging loan people want their money back. Miller falls asleep at the wheel of his mistress (Laetitia Casta) car and kills her. He can’t afford a court trial and investigation so flees the scene of the wreck and calls in a favour for his alibi, asking a young black man he helped back in the day, Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), to pick him up from the crash scene and take him home and say they were together all night playing cards.
Investigating cop Det. Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) is quickly on Millers tail over the crash as the millionaire tries to close the deal with Mayfield one last time. But rich people on Wall Street have the best lawyers and always a route far Miller to work out an escape from all his problems and make everything right from wrong.
This movie is a classic case where the star sells the film, simple as. This is nothing special and surprisingly dull for film that you would expect to be intelligent and interesting. That 87% rating by the critics suggest they were rating Gere’s performance, not the movie, although he is good in it. The 66% Imdb.com rating from the general public was more realistic. As a multiplatform release it did good business but maybe that style of release because they didn’t think it would do well in the cinema. Gere still looks good for his sixty odd years but no longer the big A-List movie star he was. Beware of multiplatform releases is the motto. It cost $12 million to make and did $45 million back to date. That doesn’t sound like record breaker to me but the end of Gere’s career.
It was an ok ambitious morality tale that tries to get you pulling for the slick city boy crook that tries to convince the viewer that Wall Street fraud is somehow good for us all and keeps it all rolling along in the west, why he is the anti hero in effect. In some ways that true as we do live well beyond our means because of it but the bubble always burst in the end as you can only stretch the same amount of real money so far. But if they didn’t then forget the free NHS folks.
I need more complexity to the plot and understanding of those trades. Even in the taught and clever Margin Call you didn’t really get that. I know it’s mostly about leveraging the same money over and over again, often to questionable clients unable to pay it back to get interest only deals, and so creating free money that doesn’t exist and so you have to hide inevitable losses. Either way it’s still happening right now. Gere does bring something extra to the role – ‘The lacquered crinkle of the smile; the corrugated silk hair; the eyes deep-pouched and glinting like coins in a rich man's wallet.’, as the critic of the Financial times said.
Imdb.com – 6.6/10.0 (38,706votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 87% critic’s approval
Metacriitc.com – 73% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Year Book – 2.5/4.0
I went away for my birthday, and I rented this film on my iPad for 99p to watch on the plane.
Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, a billionaire who seems to have everything. A flourishing hedge-fund, the perfect wife and family and now he is ready to sell up and rest on his mountains of cash and be a family man.
However, all is not as it seems as he is in dire financial straits and really wants to sell the company to cover an investment loss of around $412 million. He has borrowed the money from a friend to cover up the holes in his account until the sale comes through.
Whilst he has the lovely wife Susan Sarandon at home, he is having an affair with a French artist called Julie. After missing her show, he goes to her apartment late one night to apologise, and offers to run away with her. Unfortunately he falls asleep at the wheel and the car crashes. Whilst he manages to escape relatively unharmed, Julie is trapped in the car which catches fire and she dies.
With his family and his business hanging by a thread, Miller has to do all he can to evade police suspicions he was the driver, and also speed up the sale of his hedge fund, before an audit reveals that the balance has been doctored. So much stress and so little time....
The film looked really good and like it had so much potential and so I was so disappointed at the outcome when it ended.
Richard Gere put on a stellar performance and is utterly convincing in his plight as a man trying to hold his life together when all seems to be going wrong. He is strong and believable; however, the lighting and probably the makeup just made him look so old. He didn't match his characters ability at all!
The downfall of the film is the thin plot line that is never resolved and leaves so many unanswered questions the film barely makes sense. The main antagonist is the detective who knows he was the driver, and is set upon pinning the crime down to him. Gere uses a payphone to call a kid from Harlem to come pick him up from near the crime scene. Evidence shows his car being driven through a toll booth which is apparently “proof” that he was involved. However this is shown to be manufactured evidence, the entire case is thrown out the window. It all feels too anti-climatic, very rushed and with no explanation as to what follows on.
By the time the film ended I was just left feeling really dissatisfied and uninterested so I wouldn't really recommend it. I like a real drama/thriller/crime film but this just didn't fit any of the criteria as it jumped around too much and the ending was too abrupt to make sense.
Business magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is about to sell his hedge fund in order to hide his company's losses and evade arrest for fraud, but when he enters a car crash killing his mistress, he flees. As the investigation proceeds, the truth begins to unravel, with the consequences affecting both his wife (Susan Sarandon) and daughter (Brit Marling).
The film took a while to get started, but once all the pieces were in place, it was a tense and riveting feature, aided greatly by the sound track. The dilemna that Robert faces, the risk of both public and private scrutiny, drives him to dangerous decisions. Will his business deal go through before the truth is revealed?
Though slightly long, the movie was enjoyable and whilst Miller was a kind of villain, you do root for him and hope he makes it through. The style of the movie was slick and edgy, with a deep moody feel. Thematically, the ideas of family, money, publicity and deception create a realm of depth in this world of power and money. I guess the key element is about public image and the facade that is trying to be up-kept.
One criticism I have is the abrupt ending which felt incomplete. Left open ended to interpretation, it ultimately lacks conviction. What is the movie trying to say?
Richard Gere- Robert Miller
Susan Sarandon- Ellen Miller
Brit Marling- Brooke Miller
Tim Roth- Det. Michael Bryer
Nominated for a Golden Globe, Richard Gere is perfect for this role and definitely shines in this villainesque role. Supported by the stunning Susan Sarandon and rising star Brit Marling, performances are strong all around.
'Arbitrage' is a strong thriller that has flair, with good performances by Richard Gere and well supported by Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling. Despite the abrupt ending, it has strong themes and was filmed stylishly that makes this a gripping and enjoyable movie.