Arbitrage review (Blu-ray)

Richard Gere gives one of his best ever performances in this sleek and slick financial thriller. He plays billionaire hedge fund honcho Robert Miller, about to sell his vast Wall Street business empire before his fraudulent tactics are uncovered.

Under pressure already from being found out by his canny daughter and number two (Marling) his carefully calculated life is torn asunder when he’s involved in a nasty accident with his mistress (Casta). This intrigues dogged detective Roth who is singularly determined to nail Miller for his corrupt ways.

It’s a slow burn of a tale, taking its time to get going but once it does it’s adroit and sharp in delivering the goods. A very well written effort, articulate and pointed, it gives the cast plenty to chew on, not least Gere. In a barnstorming turn as the frazzled trader – a role that was originally meant for Al Pacino - Gere gives the narrative a propulsive kick as his life begins to collapse and is immensely persuasive in retaining sympathy for his wrongdoing. He’s a superb actor, unjustly underrated, and this role gives allows him to reach for the high notes – he’s charming, devious and heartfelt by turn.  He’s so watchable in fact that you almost don’t notice that the plot never really achieves lift off. It’s certainly engaging but it never attains the power it could have.

Gere is ably supported by top notch thesps though, including Marling as his beautiful daughter slowly coming to terms with the huge financial subterfuge she discovers, Roth sporting a very convincing American accent as the tenacious ‘tec and Parker as the innocent who aids Miller in his night of chicanery.

Though it doesn’t quite hit the bullseye, it’s goodlooking and entertaining, and well worth seeing for Gere’s classy professionalism. When will he be awarded with an Oscar?

EXTRAS ★★★ An audio commentary with director Jarecki; the behind-the-scenes featurette A Glimpse into Arbitrage (12:22); the featurette Who is Robert Miller? (7:02); and deleted scenes with optional commentary (10:08).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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