There is a common perception about good business – that the good is merely the tip of an iceberg and that beneath it all is a larger ‘bad’. That it is a ruthless world of shady men pretending to be good – murky dealings, lies, con and deceit. That business is more about a ‘projection of success’ than actual success.
“Arbitrage” takes these concepts, weaves around a simple story, some great performances and some intense direction to create as good a thriller as you have seen in your life.
On the face of it, Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a successful businessman who has risen from humble beginnings on the dint of his hard work. He is now in the process of arbitrage to sell his company and retire. However, behind the facade of normalcy, he is panicking, trying to sell off a company that has been running into losses for some time.
Robert meets with an accident with his mistress who dies instantly. Aware that this will scuttle the business negotiations, he runs away from the accident. But the law is constantly on his tail as he desperately tries to close the business deal before he is caught.
He will stop at nothing to not get caught.
“Arbitrage” works at multiple levels. At the most obvious level, it is a well edited, tightly paced thriller with enough twists to keep you glued to the edge of your seat. Yet, the thrill is not of his crime.
The audience knows what he has done and so does the police and even his family. The thrill is about whether he’d get caught. And if he does, whether he’ll get caught before the deal is sealed.
Something does happen in the end, and that is different and unexpected, but satisfying.
Richard Gere is in top form as he plays the anguished man juggling multiple things, trying to do the right wrong thing to save himself from the bigger wrong as he’s committed to perfection. He is assisted ably by a stellar cast which gives the film the edge it needed to work.
“Arbitrage” becomes a ring side view into the murky world of rich men and their motivations. It becomes a metaphor for big business in the world and tells us that behind the seemingly straightforward world of capitalism lies a murky one of men dealing and double dealing and arbitraging to their advantage at all costs, to create a bubble of serenity.
And sometimes, somewhere along the passing of the ‘buck’, the bubble does burst, leading to global economic meltdowns as we saw in 2008. In the microcosmic world of “Arbitrage” lies the real world of big business.
Debutante Nicholas Jarecki is a talent to watch out for.
– Satyen Bordoloi
Starcast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling
Director: Nicholas Jarecki