Arbitrage Blu-ray Review
We learn many of our most useful and meaningful life lessons when we’re young. Before he could fully comprehend it, Robert Miller was taught early that life revolves around five things. M, O, N, E, Y.
Miller (Richard Gere) is a hedge fund manager and prominent billionaire. He shakes many hands, approves many deals, sits through many meetings. He has a caring family, a lovely wife (Susan Sarandon), a gorgeous home. He’s a man who just turned sixty and, more importantly, knows he has to sell his company. His daughter, Brooke (Brit Marling, ANOTHER EARTH), a key member of the business, wonders why, and was raised sharp enough to knows his excuses (his age and desire to spend more time with his family) are suspicious. Turns out, Miller is hiding debt to the tune of $400, and if he doesn’t sell quick, he will be hauled off to prison for fraud.
Miller can’t hide the immense worry and doubt on his face. His hopefulness is short-lived, if it ever arrives. His troubles heighten when, one night, he’s driving his artist mistress Julie (French model-turned actress Laeititia Casta) and flips the car, killing her. He now has to cover that up, too, with a worn detective (Tim Roth) on his tail. Miller is clearly not a hero, but Gere has to play him like his character thinks he is. Miller is a complex man, just as Gere is a complex actor. They have things to hide (both billionaires and actors, it turns out, must remain guarded on many levels) and know that if they reveal too much to too many people, it’s all ruined.
Gere is a tremendously talented actor, which, I think, a lot of people tend to forget. He’s never been just the millionaire in PRETTY WOMAN or the officer/gentleman in THE OFFICER AND THE GENTLEMAN, two characters that women swooned over. Every few years, Gere turns out a great performance. In 2007, there was THE HOAX (as Howard Hughes impersonator Clifford Irving) and I’M NOT THERE (as one of many Bob Dylan incarnates). Before that, the string of DR. T & THE WOMEN, CHICAGO and UNFAITHFUL. Now, in 2012, Gere has given one of his best, most complete performances, surely to earn him his first Oscar nomination in a 35+-year career.
ARBITRAGE is the first narrative feature from writer/director Nicholas Jarecki (he previously directed the documentary THE OUTSIDERS and co-wrote the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation THE INFORMERS). It’s an incredibly tense thriller, full of deception, misguided smiles, slick actions, and fatal missteps. The story is filled with characters in compromising situations, where one false move could topple everything. Aside from Miller’s illegal activities: his daughter must protect her status; a chauffeur’s son (Nate Parker, THE GREAT DEBATERS, RED TAILS) has to fight conspiracies and threats; his wife needs to plot her own route out of the situation.
As involved viewers, we take the sides of each of these characters. Except for Miller. He can rot away in a jail cell, along with one Bernie Madoff.
Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The video presentation of ARBITRAGE has a fairly soft look, with a relatively mild level of detail. This is a disappointment, as the movie itself offers a lot to look at, such as various New York City locales, Miller’s gorgeous home and a good-looking cast. The video is still clear and without many disturbances, but this transfer could have had more effort put into it.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The audio transfer is stronger, with clear dialogue, atmospheric outdoor scenes and a solid Cliff Martinez score.
Feature commentary with writer/director Nicholas Jarecki: Jarecki gives a strong track, covering a number of topics regarding the production not touched on in the feturettes.
A Glimpse into ARBITRAGE (12:22): This featurette uses clips, on-set footage and interviews (with Gere, Jarecki and more) to offer an overview of the plot and characters of ARBITRAGE.
Who Is Robert Miller? (7:02) focuses solely on the traits and conflicts of Gere’s hedge fund billionaire.
Deleted Scenes (10:08): There are six here, available with optional commentary. They are: “Robert’s Disappointment,” “Rumors in the News,” “Reina Questions Jimmy,” “Dead End Evidence,” “Is the Money Worth It?” and “Brooke’s Realization.”