Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Patriarch

On his 60th birthday, Robert Miller seemingly has it all: a beautiful family, a successful Wall Street business, and vast wealth.  A pristine visage of the 1% family man, he claims everything he does is for his family.  Does that include his young mistress too?  And his unyielding pursuit of the almighty dollar, no matter the odds or consequences?  When the pristine image and the dark reality of his world collide, Miller's life teeters precariously on the edge of disaster.

In Nicholas Jarecki's carefully paced film Arbitrage, Richard Gere embodies the flawed Miller with nuanced skill.  Gere's performance simultaneously invokes sympathy and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  Miller deserves to be punished for the bad he has done, but money, power, and connection are resources that don't tip the scales toward justice necessarily.  In addition to Gere, who is aging just beautifully by the way, the cast includes Tim Roth as a scrappy police detective investigating the suspicious death of Miller's mistress, Susan Sarandon as Miller's look-the-other-way wife, and Brit Marling as Miller's too-trusting daughter.  Rounding out the cast is Nate Parker who plays Jimmy, the son of Miller's former employee.  The complicated relationship and tension between Miller and Jimmy, who wrestles with being the potential fall guy for Miller's bad behavior, make for the best scenes of the movie.

Although Arbitrage has big stars and hefty acting, what I liked most was its intimacy--more art house than mainstream fare.  The audience is never coddled.  Jarecki reminds us that the world is not perfect, but is what it is.  Arbitrage opens on Friday (9/14/12).

This Talking Heads song fits the feel of the film, I think. Enjoy!



  1. Good review Diana. Gere is not my favorite actor, but he's good here and makes this character a whole lot more interesting than he had any right to be. I don't think it deserves an Oscar nomination, but it's nice to actually see a good performance from him while also trying something a bit darker with his act.

  2. Thanks for reading, Dan. I agree it's not an Oscar-level movie, but it garnered a good performance from Gere.


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