A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
We tend to identify with the leading character of a film, even if he is a heartless bastard. Few films illustrate this curiosity better than Nicholas Jarecki's "Arbitrage," and few actors might have been better at making it work than Richard Gere. Here is man involved in a multimillion-dollar fraud, who cheats on his wife, tries to cover up the death of his mistress and would throw his own daughter under a bus. Yet we are tense with suspense while watching him try to get away with it.
Gere has always been an actor good at suggesting secrets under the surface. Improbably handsome, he has aged here into the embodiment of a Wall Street lion, worth billions, charming, generous, honored and a fraud right down to his bones. He plays Robert Miller, whose face must have beamed reassuringly from the covers of many magazines.
As the story opens, he's involved in the merger of his venture capital empire and has hidden $400 million in debt not only from the investors but even from his daughter, Brooke (Brit Marling). She is the CFO of his empire. Young, smart, she doesn't suspect her father has cooked the books. If the deception is revealed, she'll be hung out to dry. We're left with memories of Bernie Madoff's associates and family members. Both Madoff and Miller, who in many ways is inspired by him, commanded trust, affection and respect from many who should have looked closer.
Robert Miller has another problem, a high-maintenance mistress named Julie Cote (Laetitia Casta), who has opened an art gallery. Miller is the kind of man who requires a prestigious lover even if she must remain a secret. His wife, Ellen (Susan Sarandon), knows he plays around and accepts that as one of the rules of the game. Classy and well-maintained, she's the kind of "corporate wife" who must have understood the Supreme Court decision that a corporation is a person.