Film Review: Richard Gere Symbolizes U.S. Morality in ‘Arbitrage’
CHICAGO – The concept of crime and punishment is a goalpost that is constantly being moved. Justice becomes an discretionary circumstance, sold to the highest bidder. These are just a view of the happy themes in the new film “Arbitrage,” featuring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling.
Most likely filmgoers will have to run to the dictionary to get the meaning of the title, but the definition becomes self-evident in the movie – “the buying and selling of commodities in different markets to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset.” Sound somewhat familiar? It’s the very descriptive that was partially responsible for the economic collapse of 2007-08, but in this film it’s played out through a tale of deception and justice bought-and-sold. This highly symbolic morality tale is filtered through the arbitrage trader portrayed by Richard Gere, who balances his fortunes on the edge of a knife, which pretty much echoes today’s financial markets and negotiations.
Robert (Richard Gere) seemingly has it all. He is a wealthy commodities broker with a successful firm and a loving family. His wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) takes care of the family foundation, which is about to build an important hospital wing. His daughter Brooke (Brit Marling) is one of his finest lieutenants in the firm, a genius in high level accounting. Robert needs all hands on deck, for he is about to sell the firm, pending an outside audit.
What everyone does not know is that Robert is leveraged out. He has taken on a high risk loan to cover some bad investments made by the firm, in hopes to cover up what would be a deal breaker. At the same time, he is conducting an affair with a French artist, and her untimely death creates another cover-up opportunity. Deception and betrayal become an everyday occurrence for Robert, as his life and power are slowly leaking away. There are solutions, and it is because the wealthy are different than you and I.
Photo credit: Myles Aronowitz for Roadside Attractions