Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Arbitrage (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

Finance hath no fury like a hedge fund hottie scorned. Such is the sound and fury of the film "Arbitrage", a debut feature from Nicholas Jarecki, the facile mind behind the documentary "The Outsider" which followed the respected director James Toback in his struggles.
In "Arbitrage" Richard Gere plays a shifty financier, one Robert Miller. Gere is as twinkly-eyed as ever here and also as silver-foxed as we might adore. This is no surprise, we've seen Gere in such roles before. From "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" (1977) Breathless (1983) to Internal Affairs (1990), Gere has trademarked his own brand of suave or schmaltzy menace. He is one actor that can actually sway as he's cutting a throat and get away with it. In his early days, a murder might just as well be a love scene. He was a post-Hitchcock hunk.
So Robert Miller is no stranger on a train. We are already acquainted. He has billions and comes across as a compassionate family man as he blows out some candles on his birthday cake. But as soon as he steps outside into the dark with a sheepish grin, he is with his young and moody mistress, Julie,(Laetitia Casta ) an upstart art dealer with few paintings. She also has a cake for him, but this one is iced with the violence of foreplay.
The action pulls you in from the get-go.
A few thrusts and rolls and Miller is back at work in his limo making the rounds on his smartphone: the conscientious breadwinner, both wolf and husband. And he is about to close a deal. Once in bed with his wife (Susan Sarandon) Gere again slinks away in sheep's clothing, this time late for a rendezvous with the needy Julie, who yells and sobs while Robert pleads the "obligations" angle. Robert cozies up to her and they decide to just escape for a lost weekend. Once on the dark highway, a drowsy Robert drives over the rail and the car flips over. Smashola. He somehow escapes. The magic verve is not in the fact that Gere is a creep here, but that he is still creepy after all these years. He can be your best friend on the beach, all warmth and joie de vivre or your worst enemy with black on black eyes, the sin of night. And he does this all in a seductive serenade that takes mere seconds.
Miller goes deeper and deeper into pathos and pain and the film is rich in its symbolism. Not only is Miller bleeding internally from the outrageous  accident (no doctor required) and from his rat-like financial tactics but he dives lower and lower into the freight-elevator walls of a shuttered New York City to clean his dirty work. And he often leaves it in plain sight for others to see. 
They see nothing wrong.
Gere knows just the right temper to give his man. He is pitch perfect if you can forgive one over-acted shouting match with Miller's daughter, (played by the eerie, Indie space-queen Brit Marling).
Tim Roth also does well here as the detective possessing a quality of being just as selfish as Miller. He is always there: a human clothes -hanger. With his leering eyes and slumping gait, he is claustrophobic and annoying, where Robert Miller is a maestro of earnestness and charm. At one point when Miller's eyes go as dark as ink on a cancelled check, we are led to believe that Miller might go the route of a Macbeth or a King Lear as the twisted spleens of ambition catch up to Robert the Silver, his stomach now deflated. 
But Zounds! This is, we see at last, a circle of vipers with Robert Miller, financier, philanthropist and family man in the center of it all, a Sunshine Sociopath.
Write Ian at

No comments: