If Richard Gere is up on the big screen–I’m watching. I’ve been smitten since his Armani-clad turn as an AMERICAN GIGOLO. In ARBITRAGE, he’s grayer, still a sharp dresser– and still playing fast and loose with his personal and professional life. Technically “arbitrage” is defined as “the possibility of a risk-free profit at zero cost.” In real life, there’s always a risk, and Robert Miller billionaire hedge fund mogul, is about to find out. He’s, um, hedged a few funds, so to speak– and is in a bit of a sticky wicket.
Gere’s most palpable onscreen currency– his sex appeal– is also traded on here as Robert gambles with his marriage. Susan Sarandon plays his beautiful , intelligent, longsuffering wife who wears poufy gowns to charity balls, and chooses to look the other way as her hot, powerful husband carries on an affair with a gorgeous French art gallery owner played by supermodel Laetitia Casta.
Gere’s performance has been mentioned in the same breath with OSCAR, but I’m not seeing it. Gere– though still charismatic–runs through his usual catalogue of mannerisms-familiar since BENT and AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN: narrowing his eyes, breathing heavily, grunting– and that’s not even in the sex scenes. In fact, he’s at his best in his interchanges with the elegant Brit Marling who plays his daughter Brooke, the CFO of his company.
Without giving too much away (the trailer has already done that) the plot turns into a “thriller” of sorts with a clumsy “Columbo”style detective played by Tim Roth. For audiences saturated with “CSI” style forensics, the plot contrivances appear lame. I’m not talking micro fibers being analyzed from outer space–but who doesn’t know pay phones can be traced and photos doctored? No billionaire businessman as ostensibly intelligent as this garden variety mogul — would be this slow on the uptake unless it was 1982.
There’s also some half-hearted puffing about values, family, business, real worth– but nothing that hasn’t been better said and explored, before. ARBITRAGE means to be sexy and smart but we’re shortchanged on both counts. If it weren’t for Richard Gere — I’d want my money back.