Rental Pick: Arbitrage (2012)

ArbitragePoster

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.

Arbitrage_Stills

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?

August Movie Watching Recap & Movie of the Month

AugustRecap

Well, that was that, Summer is unofficially over. Yes I know the weather is still going to be pretty warm for most of us, even those in the Northern hemisphere, but once we enter the ‘ber’ month, you could say that Fall is in the air. To be honest with you, I’m ok with that. I LOVE Autumn. I love the cooler temps, the Fall fashion, the quieter movies, and of course Twin Cities Film Fest is coming soon! Check out the early look of the 2013 lineup if you haven’t already.

Well, since hits and comments are definitely down in the Summer, a lot of people are likely have missed a lot of my blog posts 😉 Here are some of my posts this past month:

New-to-me Films Watched:

DragonsKnightDragon Knight

Arbitrage

Arbitrage

ElysiumElysium

TheButlerThe Butler

JobsJobs

TheWorldsEndThe World’s End

AustenlandAustenland

Mud

MUD

ShadowDancer

Shadow Dancer

I never got around to reviewing Arbitrage, but I might still do that as a Rental Pick post. It’s a pretty good drama with Richard Gere in top form. Great performances from Susan Sarandon & Brit Marling as his wife & daughter. I was very impressed by MUD and Shadow Dancer. Two very different dramas but both featured strong performances and kind of a minimalistic-but-efficient script and direction. Both are quite emotionally-charged where the real special effects are the taut writing and top notch acting. I miss seeing Clive Owen on screen, the last film I saw him in was Gertrude & Gelhorne on the plane last December.

SharkWeek

Oh, I also watched a few episodes of Shark Week from Discovery Channel. I didn’t realize Netflix has them but we were actually looking for some Documentaries to watch but ended up watching a couple episodes of The Great White Invasion episodes. Fascinating stuff but pretty gory as well as they did re-enactments of people who got attacked in various parts of the world.


Rewatches:

Titanic_RoseTitanic

SupermanReturnsSuperman Returns

PridePrejudice2005Pride & Prejudice

I actually only got to about a third of Titanic. I was just bored one night and saw that it was on Netflix streaming, so I thought what the heck. It’s been over a decade since I saw it and boy the CGI looked so obvious on the long shots on top of the boat. Funny how I briefly had a crush on Leo when it came out, but now he just looked like a little boy next to the womanly Kate Winslet.

Not sure why I felt like watching Superman Returns last week but I stopped about 10 minutes before the ending with the ill-advised part with Supes’ kid. I still love the flying sequence and the plane rescue scenes though. Following the screening of Austenland, I felt the urge to watch Pride & Prejudice. I think I love Joe Wright’s version even more than the BBC version, and yes, I boldly say Matthew MacFadyen is my favorite Mr. Darcy as well 😉


Movie of the Month:

MUDposter

I had been wanting to see MUD since last April at MSP Film Fest. I’ve actually got the ticket in hand but I had to bail due to a darn snow storm! In any case, this film was SO worth the wait. Shrewd script & direction from writer/director Jeff Nichols, paired with a fine, career-topping performance from Matthew McConaughey. Definitely lives up to the hype!


Well, that’s my monthly recap folks. What’s YOUR favorite film you saw in August?