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Arbitrage starring Richard Gere

Tricky Dickie – ★★★★½

Richard Gere may be best known to some audiences (our mothers) as the leading man from Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride or even back as far as 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman. However putting aside his, for want of a better word, “romantic” films, it’s worth acknowledging him as a truly terrific dramatic actor as well. If you’re in any doubt, go back and watch American Gigolo, Primal Fear or even the more recent over-looked Brooklyn’s Finest as evidence.

His latest work, and seemingly one of his final roles before under-taking the retirement away from cinema he’s been threatening, sees him blending the leads of Wall Street and his own film Pretty Woman. In Arbitrage he plays Robert Miller, a billionaire on the cover of Forbes magazine heading up a hedge fund trading agency that he is trying to sell. Unfortunately the longer the deal goes on, the more likelihood there is that his dodgy patchwork book-keeping will be exposed, maybe even by his increasingly-suspicious daughter Brooke. To add to his internal conflict is the fact that he’s having an affair with an art dealer while trying to keep up the facade of a marriage to his wife played by Susan Sarandon. Late one night, everything implodes and he’s forced to make some tough moral decisions to try and protect his wealth and reputation, all the while fending off Tim Roth’s NYPD detective.

Arbitrage's Brit Marling - Daddy's Girl

Brit Marling as Daddy’s Girl

Gere was nominated for a Golden Globe for Arbitrage and in most other years would have received an Oscar nod for his work here if it weren’t for the strong competition from some of Hollywood’s heavyweights. He is a bad man whose moral compass has been knocked irrevocably off course. He doesn’t set out to hurt those around him, but the repercussions of his actions show just how heartless top businessmen can become. And yet, much like in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street films, a big part of you continues to root for him to get out of the mess and quietly retire.

Brit Marling impressed with an ethereal presence in Another Earth and The Sound of My Voice and some may find her a little dreamy to be a ruthless up-and-coming hedge fund trader but I’d beg to differ as there’s a steely determination in her eyes throughout, complimented by the world of disappointment that unfurls when the veil of infallibility around her father begins to fall.

The film is the directorial debut of Nicholas Jarecki and his script is a taut and snappy affair, slowly building tension throughout; every time you feel the authorities closing in on Miller, your own stomach tightens up too. Of course whether he could get away with this amount of financial malpractice and fraud is irrelevant here as you’re willing to believe he could in the name of a good thriller and the classic premise of a man on the run.

Jarecki’s two brother have directed two fine documentaries with Andrew being responsible for Capturing the Friedmans and Eugene giving us the 2005 war-exploration Why We Fight. However it is little brother Nicholas who has marked himself out as the stand-out son here. Of course he’s aided by having found the perfect leading man to front the film with Gere giving us a perfect performance of the ruthless man who can’t see the woods for the trees.

USA  /  Directed By: Nicholas Jarecki  /  Written By: Nicholas Jarecki  /  Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Tim Roth, Nate Parker /  108min  /  Thriller, Drama  /  Release: 1 March 2013 (Ireland, UK), 14 September 2012 (USA, Canada)

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Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.