ARBITRAGE (Nicholas Jarecki). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (September 28). See listings. Rating: NN
After films like Inside Job, Margin Call and Cosmopolis - to say nothing of the ongoing Marie Antoinette moment that is Mitt Romney's presidential campaign - a movie like Arbitrage feels not only out of touch but totally clueless. Did you know that rich people can get away with things just because they're rich?
Richard Gere plays another of the privileged, silver-fox characters he's been doing for a decade or so. Here, he's Robert Miller, a Manhattan super-capitalist who's about to close The Biggest Deal Of His Career by means of a few teensy misstatements about his company's financial status.
The trick is to keep his deceptions secret long enough for the sale to close, while also lying to his wife (Susan Sarandon) and daughter (Brit Marling) about his solvency - and keeping his mistress (Laetitia Casta) in the dark about some other stuff. But when a car accident threatens to put Robert on the NYPD's radar, everything changes.
Except that nothing does, because Arbitrage sees Miller as a hero. Greed is still good in this universe, or at least it isn't specifically bad, and Gere's character is viewed as good but flawed, rather than the shiftless, manipulative bastard he actually is. There's a difference between an ambiguous moral stance and the refusal to acknowledge reality (again, see Mitt Romney's presidential campaign). Director Nicholas Jarecki takes the latter option early on and never looks back.
There's nothing wrong with a filmmaker liking his character and wanting to protect him, but even Oliver Stone eventually figured out Gordon Gekko was an asshole.