Rental Pick: Arbitrage (2012)


It’s been a while since I saw Richard Gere in anything. It must’ve been a good five years or so. Well, it’s nice to see him in a meaty role that proves he’s got the dramatic chops to go with his good looks. At 63, he’s still quite a looker. Even paired with someone half his age, he somehow makes it look far less creepy than it could’ve been.

Gere plays Robert Miller, a multi-billionaire who seems to have it all. He has a successful career and a beautiful wife. He’s about to sell the seemingly profitable hedge fund he’s been managing with his daughter for a boatload of money. But of course, within minutes of the film’s opening we realize that Mr. Miller is in over his head, financially AND personally. I don’t know how this guy sleeps at night with all the lies he’s trying to cover up from everyone, especially those close to him.

One night, a tragic accident that kills his mistress propels his situation from bad to worse. Robert then turns to an unlikely person for help, which gets him even deeper into the rabbit hole, though it’s all his own doing. What I like about this film is the in-depth character study of about a person we could totally see happening in real life. Robert is not some fantastical character, there’s a ring of truth that made me think it could’ve been based on a real person. The kind of decisions he makes throughout the film reveals so much about his character and the film becomes an intriguing morality tale.

Richard Gere is in top form here, he certainly has the elite look and gravitas that makes him perfectly suited for a person of power. But he also displays a fine layer of vulnerability here that makes us still sympathize with Robert despite all the VERY bad things he’s done in his life. At times the film feels like a procedural drama when Robert is being investigated by a resolute detective Bryer (Tim Roth), but overall the film never loses its focus.


The supporting cast is superb all around. I like Brit Marling‘s understated performance in After Earth, but here she proves her versatility as an actress. There’s an explosive scene between her and Gere that’s quite thrilling to watch. Nate Parker and French model/actress Laetitia Casta have small but very crucial roles here, and both of them did a decent job. Last but not least, Susan Sarandon once again lends a memorable performance as Gere’s loyal wife. Like Gere, the 66-year old actress still looks luminous for her age, and still has the sex appeal to hold her own against even a former Victoria’s Secret model!

Though some of the financial/investment jargon at times got lost on me, the film manages to keep me engaged from start to finish. The plot is complex enough where I didn’t see the twists from miles away, and that finale at a banquet in his honor is pretty darn satisfying. Kudos to Nicholas Jarecki who wrote and directed his debut film with such an adept hand, he’s definitely a newbie filmmaker to watch for. This film proves that you don’t need bombastic shoot outs or crazy car chases to create genuine tension.

Final Thoughts: I LOVE cerebral thrillers like this that blends mystery and morality tale, more of a slow burn but it really makes an impact when the time is right. The real thrill here isn’t the special effects or clever camera work, but more in the taut script and performances. Though the film is aesthetically-shot and full of beautiful people, the story still takes center stage and that to me, is the beauty of this film.

4.5/5 stars

Have you seen Arbitrage? Well, what did you think?

57 thoughts on “Rental Pick: Arbitrage (2012)

  1. Ted S.

    Nice review Ruth, I haven’t seen a film with Richard Gere since I think The Jackal remake back in 1997!

    I remember when this movie was announced, it got a lot of press since Brit Marling was considered an up and comer and it’s supposed to be Gere’s come back film. Somehow it lost that buzz and I don’t think the movie even opened wide in theaters. It’s kind of surprising since it got great reviews on Rottentomatoes, maybe the production company just didn’t have enough money to promote it. I’ll probably give it a rent soon.

    1. Ahah yeah it’s been a while for me too. I guess there just hasn’t been any of Gere films that I want to see. Brit Marling is good here, I’m curious to see more from her. Too bad about the marketing, seems like the studio didn’t do this film justice, which is quite a shame.

  2. Good review Ruth. The cast was very good, but I felt like there was something here that kept me this movie from setting off the ground. Instead, it just sort of kept going, without building any momentum or suspense.

  3. Great review, Ruth! This was one of my favorite movies of last year! Gere and Marling were superb and I too loved that ending 8and was confused by the financial jargon haha). Thought Laetitia Casta was awful, though.

    1. Yay, glad to hear! Yes Gere & Marling made quite a pair of father/daughter. Well thankfully Casta isn’t on very much. She just has to act sexy and she certainly did the job, ahah.

          1. Nah, we don’t have it here. Order them, rent them, borrow them any way possible. Sometimes even illicit means need to be made use of haha. South Africa can sometimes be a hassle to get things in store so I shop online for a lot of things.

            1. Ah I see. Well similar to my home country then, I was born & grew up in Indonesia where we don’t have easy access to movies either. There’s no copyright laws over there so cheap dvds are VERY easy to find there and came out a lot faster than in the US! 😀

                    1. It is indeed! I love it here, it’s not over-populated and over-polluted like my hometown Jakarta! You’re in Johannesburg right? My former co-worker went there 2 yrs ago and couldn’t stop raving about how beautiful it is there!

                    2. Ah that is wonderful to hear. I have only seen what Jakarta looks like I’m documentaries and that, and I understand what you are saying. No, not in JHB, I used to live there but moved to Nelspruit, much more beautiful out here.

                    3. Ah I see. Sorry but I actually have not heard of Nelspruit, pardon my lack of geography, ahah. Sounds lovely though, I’d love to visit South Africa one day, that’s one continent I’d love to visit as well as Australia 😀

                    4. No need to apologize, it isn’t a major city like Cape Town, JHB or Durban. But it is one of the most beautiful places in the country in my opinion. You should, it is wonderful here! Hmmm, got a sister in Australia but I have never been. Where in Australia would you go? I would love to see the Scandinavian countries someday.

                    5. Oh I believe you! I doubt there’s any areas in SA that isn’t beautiful! I have an aunt in a Sydney suburbs, where does your sister live? You should visit her then. Yeah, I haven’t been to any Scandinavian country either, but those are my must-visit places too 😀

  4. Good review Ruth. I liked Arbitrage too, very much. I think it’s one of the best movies of 2012 and definitely top one in Gere’s career. Also, film is extraordinary in terms of being directing debut of Nicolas Jarecki who definitely did a brilliant job making a really interesting thriller.

    1. Hi Nika! Glad to hear you love this one. It’s probably one of his best roles in years. Impressive work by Jarecki, curious to see what he’ll tackle next.

      1. PrairieGirl

        Oh, for sure. I need a break from murder and mayhem, especially after Wednesday night (The Family… uuugggh!) I was hoping to find the German Shepard on IMDb, no luck though. Give that canine his own IMDb page… he was the best character in the movie ;-D

    1. Hello Chris! This would’ve been a good movie to highlight down the road if Nicholas Jarecki do more movies in the future. Yeah, Gere hasn’t been in anything worthy lately, so it’s good to see him in top form here. Hope you get around to seeing this soon.

    1. Hello Steph! Yeah you’re right, it’s not creepy even when Gere is doing it w/ someone half his age, ahah. He’s still quite a looker for his age, as is Susan Sarandon!

      Btw, I linked to your Marguerite review from last Friday’s post, thought I’d let you know 😀

  5. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth:

    Rich people thinking they can’t be touched by the law is close to a guilty pleasure of mine. And this film has the slow burn and equally slow crumbling of facades, quickly made up alibis and flat out lies down pat. Very human decisions made quickly. That have very real consequences later. Very possibly Gere’s most quiet, inward role.

    It’s fun watching his face and eyes as pressure is applied by the law, his eventually questioning wife, Susan Sarandon and too curious for her own good daughter, Brit Marling. The cat and mouse between Roth and Gere reminded me a lot of the banter between Dafoe and Christian Bale in ‘American Psycho’. Though much more refined.

    1. Hi Jack! Yeah, it’s an assured performance from Gere and he’s got that quiet grace to pull it off. Definitely a great role for him.

      It’s been ages since I saw American Psycho but yeah, I should probably rewatch it for the dialog which was witty at at times hilarious. I probably skip all the violent scenes though.

  6. Happy you liked Arbitrage, and agree Gere was on top form here. I think I prefer it to the other recent financial thriller Margin Call. Probably because Arbitrage focused on just a few characters, while I felt I never quite got under the skin of characters in Margin Call

    1. Hi Chris! Yeah this is one of the best I saw this year I think. I also like this more than Margin Call for the same reason as yours. The fact that this one is focused on mostly Gere’s character and those close to him, it’s more emotionally gripping.

  7. I really liked this film, though I wouldn’t rate it as highly (3.5/5 for me). Gere was fantastic, but my favorite performance was Nate Parker’s. I was *this* close to nominating him for Best Supporting Actor. 🙂

  8. Good review! I’ve been wanting to see this one but have been put off by some of the mixed reviews circulating around. However, I’m not as much as Gere fan as I am a fan of Tim Roth and want to see what more he can offer after Lie to Me. Cerebral thrillers work for me. I think you may have just gave me enough reason to check this out 🙂

    1. Hi Kim! Does Tim Roth play a cop in Lie to Me? He plays a detective here too, he’s pretty good but it’s more of a Gere’s film. Hope you give this one a shot!

  9. It seems this movie didn’t get that much attention but like you I really enjoyed it and thought the performances were good. Have seen Brit Marling in various movies now and enjoy seeing her work.

  10. Pingback: FlixChatter Review: CRISIS (2021) – FlixChatter Film Blog

  11. Pingback: Interview with CRISIS film’s writer/director Nicholas Jarecki – FlixChatter Film Blog

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