Arbitrage – Movie review

We’re film fans here at Tax Credits.  So, amongst our invaluable tax credits advice, we occasionally like to recommend a finance themed movie which we think you will enjoy.  So, sit back and enjoy our review of Richard Gere’s new Wall Street movie, Arbitrage.

ArbitrageOver recent years, there haven’t been many films about the consequences of the credit crunch. Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps disappointed and so the best film so far about the financial crisis has been 2011’s Margin Call, starring Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey.

Arbitrage may be about to give that a run for its money, though. Written and directed by newcomer Nicholas Jarecki, Arbitrage begins with Robert Miller (Richard Gere) celebrating his birthday and the fact he is about to sell his hedge fund business in a multi-million dollar deal. On the face of it, all seems well: Miller is rich, has a beautiful wife (Susan Sarandon) and is about to make a huge sum on the sale of his company.

However, we quickly discover that Miller’s life is not quite as it seems. His business deal is at risk and he isn’t the devoted family man that we’re led to believe. When an unexpected turn of events leaves Miller very much stranded alone, he turns to 23 year old Jimmy (Nate Parker) – a family friend who he has helped in the past.

Miller manages to cover his tracks but his web of deceit is beginning to entangle him. With both his employees, family and police starting to ask questions, can the multi-millionaire socialite extricate himself from his self-made problems and get his comfortable life back?

Arbitrage is a business term, often used in gambling, and is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets. Effectively, arbitrage gives you the potential of a risk-free profit at zero cost. We discover in the middle of this film that this approach is what has got Miller into his financial mess, and from then it is a game of brinkmanship with the potential buyer of his company to close the deal.

While Arbitrage may not be the best financial drama ever made, it’s hard to take your eyes off Richard Gere who is at his mesmeric best in this role. He manages to make the audience root for a morally duplicitous character and, by the end, you almost want him to get away with the things that he has done, even though he’s clearly a crook. It is one of the best performances of the actor’s long and distinguished career and elevates Arbitrage from a run of the mill thriller into something more.

Gere is ably supported by Susan Sarandon – underused, in my opinion – and the terrific Nate Parker who plays a young man backed into a corner by Gere’s behaviour. There’s also a lovely turn from Tim Roth as an NYPD cop determined to finally bring down one of the rich elite.

Considering this is Nicholas Jarecki’s first film, it is an assured and impressive debut with a strong cast. While it may not shine much of a light on the cause or ramifications of the financial crisis, Arbitrage is a taut and tense drama with a magnificent central performance from Richard Gere that rightly won him a Golden Globe nomination. Highly recommended.

Arbitrage (2013). Director: Nicholas Jarecki. Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Nate Parker, Tim Roth

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