In the last few years the men and women involved in high finance have taken a battering, and rightly so. Because of their demonisation, we rarely consider these people human, but that’s exactly what debut writer/director Nicholas Jarecki and veteran actor Richard Gere dare us to do when we look at Robert Miller. Miller (Gere) is a hedge fund manager and his company has consistently made substantial sums of money year after year. However, recently, due to one bad decision, Miller has had to cover up massive losses and rig an audit while he tries to sell his company. It’s one example of the kind of deal that caused the world financial downturn. There is a secondary storyline involving a car crash which I won’t go in to, but suffice to to say, it doesn’t make the character seem any nicer. And yet… and yet…
The brilliance of this film is in Gere’s performance (which is to take nothing away from Jarecki). Gere plays Miller as human. Someone who has made decisions and is left to either face the consequences or attempt to cover them up. We should hate him, but we empathise with him and can only be left to think about what we would do when faced with similar circumstances. At the end of the film, I asked my partner how she felt about his course of action and what resolution she wanted to see. Neither of us could decide.
Arbitrage is an intelligent, adult film. The kind of thing we could do with seeing more of. It is a character study, a thriller and a moral dilemna all rolled into one, and it is a film that deserves to be seen.