Arbitrage ***1/2

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“Arbitrage” reminded me a little bit of thrillers like “Out Of Time” and “No Way Out”. Both movies were about flawed men who are trapped in a situation where the walls are closing in, who must scheme their way out. “Arbitrage” is different in that the main character isn’t just flawed, he is a total scoundrel.

Richard Gere is Robert Miller, the owner of a powerful trading firm. He is in the middle of trying to sell his company before his stock holders find out about the astronomical losses he has hidden from them. To hide these losses he has borrowed hundreds of millions from a friend so that potential buyers won’t find out when they audit his company.

His own daughter is the CFO of the company and starts to piece together some of the discrepancies in the companies finances just as the loan he took it is about to be revoked in a matter of days.

Troubling things further is his mistress, who is on his case about not giving her enough attention as well as always being late for important events. One night when driving her home, he falls asleep at the wheel, causing a major car crash. She is killed and he walks away badly injured. Instead of calling 911, he attempts to cover his tracks and gets picked up away from the scene.

Tim Roth plays a crafty detective who starts to piece together what happened and begins to build a case against him for involuntary manslaughter. This would cease the sale of his company instantly, which would also expose the fraud he has committed.

Gere’s performance here is one of his best. He is mostly known for playing guys who are pretty charming, which he does here, but this time he uses it for fairly malicious purposes. He plays miller with a fierce intelligence as he is able to think his way out of most situations. Eventually the hammer comes down from his wife and daughter in a series of spellbinding scenes where his true colors come to light.

The director is Nicholas Jarecki, who makes his feature film debut. From the basis of this film you would think he was a seasoned veteran. The direction here is effortless. Doesn’t hurt that he is working from a screenplay that is sharp and intelligent, which he also wrote.

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