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Arbitrage – Film Review

Arrested Development: Possible Prequel  -   Arbitrage review

REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

 

And so to the 10 am session of Arbitrage.  Sparse attendance, despite this being public sector superannuation payday.  Lamented, with the ticket person the disappearance of Last Will before I was able to see it.  Not a young crowd, and definitely about half would have been there to check out the current state of Richard Gere.  I can safely report that he does a suit almost as well as Clooney but when looking harried and drawn, takes on an unnerving resemblance to Bryan Cranston*.

The previews – as ever – tell us much about what the chain (in this case Event) thinks about the movie and its audience.  The Words with Jeremy Irons needing rehydration where Bradley Cooper playing an expressionless guy**;  Skyfall, a James Bond starring Daniel Craig as a man with few signs of personality; a film with a very high shooting quotient; Argo which might be ok but for the sneaking feeling all the good lines have been used in the preview***;  The Intouchables is an endearing-looking French confection about a wealthy paralysed bloke and his way-tough carer. In other words, the previews suggested that (a) Arbitrage was unlikely to require a wide repertoire of expressions from Mr Gere and (b) the plot and script might be a bit intelligent.  We also had two ads for Foxtel.

The Geremeister plays Robert Miller, a lion of Wall Street, a sleek but ageing king of a jungle. He has survived for years and is a purveyor of confidence mostly in himself.  Susan Sarandon is his wife, limited to doing charitable things.  There is a possibly thick-headed son and a disconcertingly clever daughter.  He’s in well-dressed flunkie heaven with many young retainers and some old hanging on his oracular status.  The … ahem …. girlfriend with a cute French accent and an art gallery propped up by his “investment”.  All the signs of success are there but the throne is on hollow legs and the whole palace may be on quicksand.

The film deals with the period when additional excrement is added to the quicksand and the whole is transported by an air-conditioning medium into Gere’s immediate vicinity so that, for the first time, he may have to face the consequences of his actions****.

Solid performances from Gere, Sarandon, Britt Marling, Tim Roth (as a dogged NY cop this time) and Nate Parker.  A script that shows rather than tells and a plotline that recognises that what is screened has a before and an after.  Some recognisable traces – a bit of Bonfire of the Vanities here, a little Margin Call there, some Woody Allen-lite NY affection – but it’s a world most of us don’t know.

This is well worth time and effort.  It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good.

 

* – don’t pretend you don’t know.  Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad, plus a couple of strange roles in movies including the unlamented Total Recoil.

** – something he seems to do quite well.

*** – oh, and it’s got Bryan Cranston.

***** – yes, he can act.  Although his character operated as a projection of the information he was processing much of the time, rather than as a whole person.

****** – I’m not giving away more of the plot.

 

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