Film & TV

Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon Star in Intricate Fiscal Thriller "Arbitrage"

Slick and grown-up as Richard Gere himself, this intricate fiscal thriller takes a dead bead on extreme privilege, with Gere's Madoff-like billionaire fund-runner scrambling to keep his personal empire from crumbling like crackers. He has everything, including a loving family, a hot French girlfriend (Laetitia Casta), and that warm umber lighting only the wealthy can afford, until he doesn't — with the sale of his company for nine figures already jeopardized by cooked books, a car wreck and warm corpse get him scrambling one step ahead of the cops. Jarecki, of those Jareckis, slices his cake and has it too: We bizarrely empathize with the amoral hero's stressed-out tightrope walk, wanting him to get away with being an untouchable plutocratic scumbag, while the film simultaneously limns the rank injustices money can buy in bulk. Everything, as the title suggests, is negotiable. In fact, sometimes Jarecki's ethical needle wavers and seems to side with Gere's weasel, but that might be because the actor (looking by now like the squinty twin of Bill Maher) is so convincing and the safety net of supporting performances around him (wife Susan Sarandon, lawyer Stuart Margolin, Harlem innocent Nate Parker) is so tight. Tim Roth, as a mannered Columbo-ish detective, might seem out of place, but otherwise, the movie has the vibrations of firsthand knowledge.
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Michael Atkinson is a regular film contributor at the Village Voice. His work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.