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Gere up for a smart thriller.

Rod Lott December 21st, 2012

Given the stiff competition with Abe Lincoln, mental patients and paraplegic virgins, I'm not certain Richard Gere will earn his first Oscar nomination for Arbitrage, but I think he certainly deserves to. He's present for nearly every frame of the film, and captivates — something not readily said for his past performances.


Robert Miller (Gere) should have lots to celebrate: Turning 60, he has his health, a loyal wife (Susan Sarandon, Cloud Atlas) and a megasuccessful firm he's about to sell for a tidy profit. But Robert is duplicitous; he's actually in dire straits financially, and sunk if the sale fails to go through within the week.

And then things actually get bad.

A poor decision begets a tragic accident, which begets more poor decisions. Suddenly, just the risk of losing his shirt seems positively quaint in hindsight.

Smart, adult-oriented thrillers that can excite without relying on action scenes are a rare breed these days, so when one comes along that satisfies — even not completely — it’s a reason for a quiet celebration, preferably between you and a DVD player, and then to tell your closest friends.

The feature debut of writer-director Nicholas Jarecki, brother of documentarians Eugene (Freakonomics: The Movie, The House I Live In) and Andrew (Capturing the Friedmans, Catfish), Arbitrage has lots to offer, and Gere’s powerhouse performance of a deeply flawed man is just the start. Set in a currently relevant environment, the script generates suspense out of strategy — moves made by his daughter (Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice), a police detective (Tim Roth, clearly having a ball) and an old “friend” from the past (Red Tails’ Nate Parker, in a breakthrough role) who somehow ends up with the most to lose. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Catfish film review   
Freakonomics: The Movie DVD review   
Sound of My Voice film review    

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