Money corrupts. Though not always true or absolute, being rich frequently goes hand-in-hand with being greedy, unscrupulous and/or dangerous. At some point or another, the protagonist in Arbitrage
is all of these things.
Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a very successful businessman worth millions of dollars. His children work for his company, his wife (Susan Sarandon) handles the philanthropy, his girlfriend manages his art gallery and he's about to retire at 60 after selling the company for a profit. Except nothing is that perfect. Robert is committing fraud to cover up a bad business move and the police suspect him for a homicide. But these are his secrets, and if he can keep them that way long enough he may actually minimize the damage caused by his actions. But how much collateral damage is too much?
Money is everything to Robert. When he hurts someone who is not a part of his world, he offers to pay him. "You think money is going to fix this?" "What else is there?" Even Robert's daughter does not know what they'd do together outside of the office. His family accepts that he's a workaholic (though his girlfriend is less understanding), but they never realized how far his obsession had pushed him; how much it had skewed his sense of right and wrong. He claims to do what he does to protect his loved ones and the futures of his employees, but it's really all in the name of “more” and preserving his lifestyle. Robert does experience a few moments of conscience, but they are quickly supplanted by an even better plan that saves him from having to take responsibility.
Gere is outstanding. He's always looked good in a suit and had the ability to promise the world with one look, but these talents don't compare to his talent to portray a self-centered jerk. His voice becomes bigger as his ego inflates. He speaks about an opportunity "to basically print money" like it was a religious experience, which will stay with audiences long after the credits. This is Gere at his best.
Sarandon isn't the most suitable socialite wife as she’s so often portrayed as a woman who is down-to-earth. But there is a great scene at the end of the picture during which she lays into Robert for everything he’s done to their family; it’s in this moment that she shines. The only blemish is the surprisingly unflattering dress she’s wearing.
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Starring: Richard Gere
, Susan Sarandon
and Brit Marling