According to the excellent (and free) Collins online dictionary Arbitrage is “the purchase of currencies, securities, or commodities in one market for immediate resale in others in order to profit from unequal prices.” fortunately the movie has nothing to do with that and the worst thing about this film (IMHO) is its title!
Richard Gere plays the part of a successful businessman who is selling his company, we don’t initially know why, this is just the point at which we the audience enter the story. He has grown up children and grandchildren, devoted wife (Susan Sarandon), servants, etc. obviously a family of great wealth. Quickly we discover that he has to sell the company to cover up something, he may loose all the money, he may go to jail. We also find out that he is having an affair and trying to keep everyone in his life happy and all his secrets in place.
That is when things start to go wrong. He crashes a car killing his mistress and walks away from the accident. His daughter, who works for the company, discovers some financial problems and confronts him. An audit is taking place leading up to the sale of the company, but is being delayed by someone for some reason.
Gere just appears to have dealt with one potentially devastating situation when the next one happens, and as viewers we are confused about his motivation – is he a good guy in a bad situation or a bad guy trying not to be found out? Does he keep his daughter in the dark to protect her or to deceive her? By running from his mistresses death is he looking after number one or protecting the investors and employees who will suffer if he is found out and the sale falls through? When someone else is going to go to jail for him will he let it happen or confess?
Gere’s performance is truly exceptional. He is on screen almost all the time being torn between humanity and sucess at all costs. But everyone in the cast is shine, Tim Roth is great as the detective out to discover the truth. Susan Sarandon isn’t on screen too much but when she is you know all about it. Also worth mention is Nate Parker who plays the son of a former associate of Gere’s character who he turns to for help – his performance is really impressive.
This is a very engaging film that makes you care about the characters and really keeps you guessing right to the end credits.
BTW: watched this at the GFT – excellent cinema with no popcorn, hotdogs, noisy clientele, etc. a pleasure!