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Arbitrage.

I can’t remember if I have ever gone to the cinema to purposefully see a film that includes Richard Gere in it. Let me go check IMDB and look at his filmography. OK, I checked, I haven’t. But for whatever reason when I saw the trailer to this a few weeks ago, something about his performance is what intrigued me to go. I can easily report that Mr Gere did a pretty good job. Not Oscar worthy as some are saying, but pretty decent. He plays Robert Miller, a multi-millionaire corporate CEO Manhattanite who has made some bad decisions and things appear to be slowly unraveling for him. He’s committed fraud by acquiring a loan for over $400M from a CEO friend in order to fill in gaps in the numbers for an upcoming audit. If the plan works, he will be able to sell his company once and for all. He’s committed adultery by seeing an aspiring French artist he is bankrolling behind the back of his wife played by Susan Sarandon. And to put a nail in his coffin, he’s now committed involuntary manslaughter after falling asleep at the wheel while driving to upstate New York with his mistress. She dies on impact, and he flees the scene thinking he has a chance to get out of it, knowing if he doesn’t flee his entire life will certainly come crashing down all around him. Soon Detective Bryer, played by the likeable Tim Roth, is on his tail, and Miller’s getaway driver Jimmy (Nate Parker) gets caught in the middle, and possibly a victim of fraud himself at the hands of the detective. As much as I was a fan of writer/director Nicholas Jarekci’s first screenplay, an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Informers, I can also see it’s many, many faults. It was, when all is said and done, a bad, campy B-movie. Jarecki steps it up here with Arbitrage. His sense of style is more focused, with the claustrophobic sound and look of the film, without feeling suffocating, being a big plus. However, it still has streaks of, well not campiness, but at times I felt like I was watching the greatest, most beautifully executed Lifetime or Encore Suspense Channel movie. Good in it’s own right, but not entirely cinema worthy. The performances were all adequate. Sarandon worked the script as great as she always does as his somehow level headed wife. The gorgeous Brit Marling (Another Earth) as Brooke, Miller’s daughter and right hand woman at the company. And of course Roth doing his somewhat sleazy good cop/bad cop routine that he has fine tuned yet again. But it comes back to the film’s strongest element, Robert Miller, and how Gere portrays him. Miller is written as a character that is just kind of there. He’s not written sympathetically, nor is he written as an evil corporate leader despite this taking place during the height of a financial meltdown reminiscent of 2008. But Gere makes him a sympathetic character. Miller has done some terrible, terrible things, but something about about Gere’s performance conveys that what he has done is make mistakes. Despite the standard cliche in how these type characters are portrayed on screen, and despite the fact of how many of these type characters have been behaving in our society of late, his actions were not intentional. Remarkably you feel for this man, especially as you see while at the same time he is covering up for his horrible deeds, he is is also trying to do right by people. He’s a conflicted man. He knows they are mistakes, and even when he is trying to help, he’s causing further problems. He’s not really battling an internal fight, his heart appears to always be in the right place the majority of the time, but more of a battle between doing what is moral and what is lawful, something I would bet a fair amount of people do on a daily basis, or, and the point here is, can see themselves stuck in, no matter their walk of life. I give this one 72 sweaty treadmill minutes with Brit Marling.

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