Of all the movies with Oscar buzz (see The Master, Argo, Lincoln) Arbitrage is getting little play.  I have never found Richard Gere to be accomplished as an actor, and I am in the vast minority of females who do not swoon at Pretty Woman.  If anything, I prefer Runaway Bride.  Deal with that.  However, Gere’s performance as a Madoff-esque Wall Street tycoon just might be his best to date.  I will venture to claim that he is actually acting, as opposed to squinty eyed charming.  This film documents a man high in his standing as a business leader and family patriarch.  Without giving away details, the film finds him atop a potentially calamitous financial avalanche as well as a man running from the scene of a crime.  Gere maintains his inherent charm so that, despite his irredeemable choices, the audience is likely to root for him.

Tim Roth provides a humorous picture of a dogged police detective obsessed with bringing a seemingly untouchable Gere down.  Kudos also to Susan Sarandon who plays the wife that may not be so in the clouds after all.

Arbitrage is a great portrayal of the current economic climate without being too preachy or ham-fisted.  Even if you don’t understand Gere’s machinations or the details of his loans and deal-making, you can still grasp what he holds on the line and who will be affected.  For the record, I feel that I understood 95% of the financial issues.  That might be a new high score.  Gere is on the short-list train to Oscar nom land.  Check it out.

On a scale of Margin Call (9.5) to Larry Crowne (0.5) I give this an 8.

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