Sunday, 6 January 2013

Arbitrage (2012) - ★★★★

Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Writer: Nicholas Jarecki
Stars: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker

Arbitrage is a strange film, as well as a great one. Somehow it can make you root for the main character, even if you wouldn't in real life. In the past there have been cases where rich and powerful men were arrested and found guilty for various crimes, where people's automatic assumption is that they deserve it. In Arbitrage, we have the same situation, except we've gotten to know this character, causing us to question whether we want him to get caught or not. It's a film that makes you think, which is why there is some genius behind it.

Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a successful financial businessman with both professional and personal secrets. He's lost a huge sum of money from a bad investment, leaving the company in dire straits. He must sell it as soon as he can before the company's turmoil is revealed and its value plummets. On top of that, he's been having a liaison with a young artist named Julie, who foolishly expects him to divorce his wife for her. Things take a turn for the worse when Miller accidentally kills one of the characters in a car crash, causing him to flee the scene and cover his tracks. This scandal has the potential to ruin his relationship with his wife (Susan Sarandon), daughter (Brit Marling), and chances of selling the company.

Gere plays a man under tremendous pressure perfectly. His facial expressions mirrored many of the emotions I was feeling while watching the film, which put me in his position and helped me understand this character. Miller is a man guilty of a horrible crime, yet for some reason I did not want him to get caught. This can be attributed to the excellent way that director Nicholas Jarecki display's Miller's character and let's the viewer get to know him. Even though he was not an honorable man, the fact that we know this person makes it OK in our mind to hope he succeeds. I'm not saying it's right, it's just strange.

It's conflicting when it comes to choosing a side. On one side, I wanted the cops to win and take Miller down, because Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) said something along the lines of "These rich guys always out-finance us and out-lawyer us." So yes, it would be the right thing for a rich and powerful man to get arrested for a crime they are guilty of. At the same time, we know this character and know that he is not a terrible person, which makes one wish he'd get away with it. I know which is the right side, but I couldn't help rooting for the wrong side.

The character building in this movie was exquisite, seeing Miller become crushed more and more under the pressure of his crimes. It's character building like this that make a story 10 times more interesting, thrilling and entertaining to watch. Spielberg's 'Lincoln' did not work well for me because Lincoln's character did not develop, for he was just a walking, talking, wisdom machine.Whereas Jarecki's 'Miller' is a lying, cheating, intelligent man under enormous pressure to cover up his crimes and dig himself out of a huge hole he's buried under.

The last 15 minutes of the film throws a real curveball, taking the story in a completely different direction, going from Miller's crimes to his marriage. I was hoping that the film would touch on that subject, and it did it very well. Along with brilliant cinematography and an amazing score to accompany it, practically every aspect of the film was great.

Richard Gere's acting is brilliant in this. I hope he secures an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. I think this is his greatest performance to date, and it's definitely one of the best of 2012. It's a thrilling film that had me entertained all the way through.

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