Monday, October 1, 2012
3 Thoughts on Arbitrage
1. It's not a thriller - First, if you have any intentions of watching this movie, I suggest you avoid the trailer. It not only gives away most of the plot, it also describes the movie as "a crackling thriller" (also seen on the poster image above). It would be better described as a cliched drama. *slight spoilers ahead* (although if you have seen the trailer, then you are already spoiled) The plot is about a wealthy, businessman in NYC who is in the midst of selling his company, due to some shady dealings. He, of course, has a wonderfully luxurious life complete with a wife, children and grandchildren. He is also, of course, having an affair with a much younger, french, art gallery owner. The beginning set up was like watching the A,B,C's of a typical lifestyle of the so-called "one-percent". But then, the thrilling twist happens; while driving with his mistress he gets into an accident that ends up killing her. Let me repeat, AN ACCIDENT. He did not murder her. Yet, he flees from the scene because the controversy could jeopardize his business deal. The controversy of an affair. At this point, is having an affair really even a controversy anymore? Also, I'm sure with the "power" that he has, he would be able to cover up his relationship with this woman as a "business affair". Instead, he spends the entire movie covering up this ACCIDENT, which also involves getting an innocent guy caught up with his crime (of fleeing the scene). I will admit that the film was an interesting commentary on the prejudice of the justice system, concerning race and class. However, it didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know. There was absolutely nothing "thrilling" about the plot at all. I guess, we are supposed to be on the edge of our seats wondering if he will get caught, but I couldn't give a fuck. The film ends with an ambiguous, cut to black ending, which has been done to death lately. It can work beautifully with some films (A Separation, Take Shelter), but in most cases it feels lazy (like this movie).
2. What's an "Arbitrage"? - The best thing about this movie? I learned a new word. Arbitrage means "the simultaneous purchase and sale of the same securities, commodities, or foreign exchange in different markets to profit from unequal prices". When I left the movie, I heard several audience members question what it meant. While the word describes a major plot, it's probably not the best idea to use a word that many people don't know, as the title of your movie. Just a thought.
3. Brit Marling was miscast - While most critics are praising Richard Gere's performance, I think the best performance was from Tim Roth, as the investigating officer. Gere was satisfactory, but he still played Richard Gere (has he ever played anyone else?). I really liked Brit Marling in one of my favorite films from last year, Another Earth (which she also co-wrote), but she did not fit this role. The character was written as unrealistically naive, but combine that with Marling's soft and sweet demeanor, it becomes really hard to believe that she would thrive as a powerful businesswoman in NYC. Also, someone should tell the costume designer that no woman in NYC would wear a white shift dress with an off-white coat.