Saturday, August 16, 2014

Film Review: Arbitrage (2012)

Arbitrage (Review)
United States/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a film you really have to stick with to reap the reward..."

On the verge of a huge merger, billionaire Robert Miller (Richard Gere) finds himself trying to avoid more than fraud charges...

Life is hard for billionaire Robert Miller. He's in the midst of selling a hedge fund for huge profits, but must deal with an audit and a weary buyer. He accidentally kills his mistress in a car wreck. He's being investigated by a douchebag detective who can't seem to sit straight. His self-righteous daughter is snooping through their records. And, so much more. And that's really all that Arbitrage is: a character-study, albeit lacking some depth, with a decent character arc.

Arbitrage is an interesting film. It starts off very slow and without a hook -- it really offers nothing to pull you in. This feeling of boredom continues for the first 30 minutes or so. Then, suddenly, the story starts moving. It's not a fast-paced thriller, but, believe it or not, things start happening -- a story with actually interesting events begins to unfold. Sure, it still moves at an unnecessarily slow pace, but it at least becomes engaging. Arbitrage is a film that becomes more engaging, and generally better and better, as it progresses. It's a film you really have to stick with to reap the reward -- no matter how punishing the first act and how merely decent the reward is.

The acting was all-around good from the entire cast. I like Richard Gere, but I felt like he underperformed -- the character just doesn't come to life. Otherwise, it's all simply good -- nothing special and nothing terrible. The film is shot nicely, I liked the cinematography. I also liked the music, especially how it blends into certain scenes. Nicholas Jarecki is hit-and-miss as writer and director. On one hand, I think his direction is competent, and he eventually gets a grasp on the "thriller" aspects (although it never feels like a full on thriller.) On the other hand, the writing is boring and uninspired -- the characters don't pop like they should in a character-study, and the story feels busy yet bland.

Overall, Arbitrage is a decent film. It has a very rough start, but gets better and better as it progresses. It never quite reaches its full potential, though, partly due to the lack of efficient and effective characters and suspense (this is advertised as a character-study thriller after all). If you're a hardcore fan of Gere or the genre, you may enjoy it the most.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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