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Laramie Movie Scope:
Arbitrage

A one percenter eludes laws and consequences

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2012) Businessman, philanthropist, all-around humanitarian, Robert Miller (Richard Gere) pronounces to all the members of his family at the celebration of his 60th birthday: "I know that my best work is right here in this room right now." After informing his daughter and the firm's chief investment officer Brooke (Brit Marling) that he's selling the business to Standard Bank and Trust, the billionaire owner of the financial-trading firm Miller Capital slips away to be with his mistress, Julie Côte (Laetitia Casta), a buxom French art-gallery owner, whom he has financed (including her apartment) through his foundation, instead of being with his wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon).

In need of James Mayfield's signature on the merger documents - in which case shareholders, employees, and his family come out ahead - before Jeffrey Greenberg pulls back a temporary loan of $412 million, filling a hole in the company's portfolio, Robert has to worry about possible bankruptcy, his committing fraud, and assuaging Julie ("You're never going to leave her"). Driving out of New York City with Julie that night in her car - wearing a seatbelt while she snuggles against his shoulder - Robert momentarily nods off, loses control, flipping the vehicle.

Written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki, the film presents another example of how the ultra-wealthy, the one percent, manage to elude with their leverage and connections the laws and consequences to which everyone else must obey or succumb: "Nothing's beyond the money for you, Robert."

Years earlier Robert had promised his now-deceased African-American friend Lawrence Grant to look after his son Jimmy (Nate Parker), who had been charged with felony gun possession. Following the accident, Robert, suffering from an injury to his abdomen, calls the 22-year-old living in Harlem from a pay phone, rather than using his cellphone, for a ride home.

With his attorney and confidant Syd Felder (Stuart Margolin), Robert discusses a "hypothetical" event for legal advice. Meanwhile, skeptical about her father's real motives for wanting to retire from his life's passion of making deals, Brooke discovers a discrepancy in the accounts: half of the firm's funds appear to have disappeared. Confronting her father and mentor, Brooke demands an explanation. A bad bet on a Russian mine, covered by a hedge, with the threat of going broke, but everybody wins if he can make the sale - so long as she lies about the audit.

Looking for the missing driver of the wrecked car as part of his homicide investigation, NYPD Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) questions Robert about his relationship with Miss Côte; his attempt to interview Mrs Miller receives a brusque brush off ("Make an appointment").

Circumstantial evidence puts Jimmy in the crosshairs. "He's using you," Det Bryer tries to convince Jimmy that he's "disposable" in Miller's scheme. Syd questions Robert: "Why'd you put your family's future in this kid's hands?"

Ellen, while preparing a delicate dilemma of her own devising for her husband, attempts to persuade her daughter: "You have to do what's right for you." In discussing with Ellen their daughter's emotional devastation, Robert takes the view that this experience will be a valuable lesson for Brooke's career: "The world is cold." Ellen replies: "Then you're gonna need a warm coat."

Robert's injury at the time of the car crash appears to be a serious internal hemorrhage, possibly involving broken ribs; yet he manages to get through the days afterward without going to the hospital or seeing a physician. Another advantage of being so rich?

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, 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.

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Copyright © 2012 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [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)