Film Review:

Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth
Genre: Whatever Margin Call was

It wasn’t until walking out of the cinema after seeing Arbitrage that I realised I still had no idea what “arbitrage” was. The word is not used in the film. Was this a deliberate ploy to make me look it up and gain some glorious post-viewing insight into the film? Well, let me save you the trouble …

Arbitrage (film still)

Arbitrage – n – The simultaneous buying and selling of securities, currency, or commodities in different markets or in derivative forms in order to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset.

I am none the wiser.

My only conclusion is that, like Margin Call, a similar examination of corporate greed and excess released earlier this year, the term “arbitrage” is used to denote an exposé of the serious business and dirty dealings normally beyond the comprehension of mere mortals (i.e., anyone not involved daily in multi-million dollar deals).

There is an important difference between the two films though. Where Margin Call is ultimately a simple examination of corporate desperation, Arbitrage at least poses some ethical quandaries. It invites the audience to question what they would do if faced with a convenient multi-million dollar financial solution that is somewhat less than legal (assuming they could understand it).

But with notable lefties Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth heading the billing, there is no doubt where Arbitrage’s sentiments lie. These don’t distract from the all-round excellent performances, though. Indeed, Gere has supposedly delivered his best effort yet, but I wouldn’t know as I boycotted him after Pretty Woman in 1990.


Rating: Three-and-a-half billion

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