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Power is the best alibi.

Poster art for ArbitrageIn Arbitrage, a tasty financial thriller written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki, Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, an investment titan who is standing at the precipice (though almost no one knows it).

Playing this luxe silver fox, Gere has never been more likable or alive on screen. His friendly dry charm works for the film in fascinating ways, since Robert, as we learn, is a world-class sleazebag. He lies and sleeps around, he commits major financial fraud, he slinks away from a car accident that was all his fault – and the film makes no apologies for any of this behaviour. We’re torn between wanting to see him pay for his transgressions and get away with them.

Drawing on elements of the Madoff case, Arbitrage digs into how money, when there’s this much of it and it’s traded this abstractly, tends to breed duplicity, and how that dynamic spills from the financial into the personal. Tim Roth is tensely funny as the film’s Columbo/Javert figure, a detective who keeps showing up like a pesky mutt, and Susan Sarandon (as Miller’s wife) makes the most of a well-etched role.

The film doesn’t turn its issues into a glorified essay, but it does use them to give the audience a vital emotional workout. Jarecki, it’s clear, has the talent to make shrewdly pleasurable Hollywood movies. Here’s hoping Arbitrage is the first of many.

– Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

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