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EW Movie Review: "Arbitrage"

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Richard Gere stars a corrupt businessman in the new thriller "Arbitrage," a film ripped from today's headlines. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following review for NY1.

In the tasty new financial thriller Arbitrage, Richard Gere is Robert Miller, an investment titan who’s standing at the precipice, though almost no one knows it.

Gere, playing this silver fox, has never been more likable or alive on screen. And that works for the movie in a fascinating way, since the man he’s portraying is a world-class sleazebag. He lies and sleeps around. He commits fraud. He slinks away from a car accident that was his fault. The film makes no apologies for any of this behavior.

Yet the whole time, we’re torn between wanting to see justice done and wanting to see him get away with it. That, as Hitchcock knew, is how a true thriller works: It creates moral urgency by making the audience complicit in what it knows is wrong.

Arbitrage has some of the stomach-churning, high-finance vertigo that last year’s Margin Call did, as Miller tries to sell off his company by hiding a $400 million hole in its assets. Just as we’re settling into the enjoyment of watching Richard Gere act silky-smooth on the surface even as he telegraphs the jangled nerves he’s concealing, we learn that he’s got other, trashier problems, like a high-maintenance mistress who throws fits if he’s 15 minutes late and then that car accident, which he tries to cover up.

The fact that Arbitrage isn’t all high-end jargon and numbers-crunching may make it seem less insidery than Margin Call but the theme of dirty money is just as rich. Tim Roth is tensely funny as a cop who keeps showing up like a pesky mutt and Susan Sarandon, Nate Parker and even Graydon Carter make the most of well-etched roles.

This is Nicholas Jarecki’s first film as a director but it’s already clear that he has the talent to make shrewdly pleasurable Hollywood movies. Here’s hoping Arbitrage is the first of many.

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