[Picture of projector]

Laramie Movie Scope: Arbitrage

Crooked man follows crooked path

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

November 9, 2012 -- It turns out this movie has nothing to do with the financial meltdown of 2008, rather it is about one man's moral meltdown as he tries to weasel his way out of big legal, financial and criminal messes he's gotten himself into.

Richard Gere turns in a fine, nuanced performance of a very complicated character, Robert Miller, head of a hedge fund who made a bad financial bet on a Russian copper mine. He has covered up the hole in his books with a quickie loan from a friend, but that bill is past due. He needs to sell the company quickly in order to pay off the loan and save his company from bankruptcy.

But that isn't all the trouble that Miller is in. He also ends up falling asleep while driving with his girlfriend in the car. The car rolls, killing the girlfriend. Miller leaves the scene of the accident, knowing this kind of publicity could kill the sale of his company and ruin him. He reaches out to an old friend for help, Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker of “Red Tails”). Who gives him a ride back home and provides him with an alibi.

The police quickly pick up Miller's trail. Det. Michael Bryer (Tim Roth of “The Incredible Hulk”) quickly figures out that Miller is to blame for the accident, but he can't shake Jimmy Grant's story. He tries every trick in the book to get at Miller, who is under tremendous pressure to close the sale of his business. His world is falling apart, but he stubbornly hangs on.

The question becomes whether or not Miller has enough morality left in his soul to take the fall for what he has done, or will he let Jimmy Grant go to jail? Miller is not a truly evil man, but he is seemingly willing to do whatever it takes to get this deal done. Richard Gere reveals layers of Miller's character as the story goes along, and we really get down to his core when Miller is forced to make a decision about what to do about Jimmy Grant's fate. Miller is a fascinating character and Gere's performance is excellent.

Susan Sarandon, who plays Miller's wife, Ellen, turns out to be another hard-boiled character who is not above blackmail to get what she wants. Miller's daughter, Brooke (Brit Marling of “Another Earth”) finds out about her father's shady financial dealings and is very disillusioned. She is one of the more innocent characters. Miller's attorney, Syd Felder (Stuart Margolin of “The Hoax”) is very crafty, but he also has a strong moral center.

All these characters have to make very tough choices, revealing their strength, or weakness, of character. It is said the truth will set you free, but in this movie, the truth seems to be a last resort. It is an interesting character study with some very strong performances. This film rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2012 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)