I was really looking forward to this one for a few reasons. First, there was the cast; how can you go wrong with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling and Tim Roth? Then, there was the subject; no car chases, no vampires, no explosions but rather a morality play about a one-percenter whose manipulations are about to do him in. And finally, there was the producer, Laura Bickford, who has been my champion at Fox where “An Ex to Grind” is still in development; she loved the novel and has fought for it at the studio so it was only natural that I’d root for her newest project.
That said, I liked “Arbitrage” a lot. It’s not quite as riveting as “Wall Street,” maybe because we’re jaded by all the Bernie Madoff/Gordon Gekko-type swindlers at this point. But it’s a slick, sophisticated, grownup piece of entertainment that not only looks great but features a snappy script and wonderful performances, especially by Richard Gere.
Gere manages to make us actually root for him, even though he’s a snake. He’s a snake who says “I’m sorry” to people. He shows remorse. But he’s motivated by money and power to the core, and those who love him have to play by his rules or else. He’s a handsome, silver-haired stud and you can’t look away whenever he’s in a scene, which is most of the time. He commands your attention the way true movie stars do. I don’t know if he’ll get an Oscar nod for Best Actor, because there are so many contenders this year, but he should certainly be in the mix.