Paul Heinz

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Arbitrage: movie review

I remember almost nothing about business school, but I remember this: arbitrage is the exploitation of inconsistencies in the market.  In debut director Nicholas Jarecki’s “Arbitrage,” Richard Gere looks to exploit not only his business dealings, which are quickly crumbling, but his personal life, which isn’t much better.  Half the fun is watching to see if he can pull it off.

Gere is a hedge-fund billionaire attempting to sell his business for reasons that don’t make sense to his daughter and CFO, Brit Marling, but we soon learn what Brit doesn’t: Gere’s company is cash poor, and he’s cooked the books so that it can pass muster with a prospective buyer.  The screws are turning from all sides: a friend who loaned him hundreds of millions wants payback, mistress (Laetitia Casta) demands more of him than he can provide, and the auditors are dragging their feet.

And then things really start to go bad.

To divulge more would be unwise, but suffice it to say that what ensues will require an investigation by the incomparable Tim Roth, a showdown with wife Susan Sarandon, and several pleadings from attorney Stuart Margolin to confess before things get worse.  Margolin (Angel from “The Rockford Files”) was particularly fun to see after all these years.

“Arbitrage” could just as easily be called “The Ides of March 2,” as it shares not only the same cynicism portrayed in the Oscar-nominated movie of last year – in which human beings are little more than moveable parts – but also the fall off a naiveté’s pedestal.  Both films are expertly-done thrillers, and both feature a seasoned veteran whose character attempts to juggle all the pieces before they crash as headlines and prison terms.

I hadn’t heard a word about Arbitrage until yesterday morning, but the theater I attended on Friday night was packed (at $10.50 a ticket!), indicating that adults are starved for entertainment and are willing to shell out cash for grown-up entertainment.  Hollywood take notice.

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