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Arbitrage (Blu-ray Review)

Dynamic performances by Richard Gere and an all-star cast highlight this riveting, suspense-filled thriller about love, loyalty, and high finance. Robert Miller (Gere) is a New York hedge-fund magnate who appears to have it all – money, power, a loving wife (Susan Sarandon), and a devoted daughter (Brit Marling) working by his side. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion Miller is running on borrowed time, trying to unload his crippled trading company before his frauds are revealed. A deadly error throws Miller’s “perfect life” into a tailspin, raising the suspicions of a detective (Tim Roth) and threatening the future of his financial empire. As the line blurs bet ween what is right and wrong, legal and criminal, Miller is driven to desperate measures to protect the only thing more precious than his considerable fortune: his family. 

Film 

Arbitrage has two definitions taken from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website: the nearly simultaneous purchase and sale of securities or foreign exchange in different markets in order to profit from price discrepancies. 2: the purchase of the stock of a takeover target especially with a view to selling it profitably to the raider.

Richard Gere stars as uber-wealthy Robert Miller, a New York hedge fund manager who seems to have the perfect life. Susan Sarandon plays his wife and Brit Marling plays his daughter and right hand associate. Miller seems to lead a very exciting life. He’s a wheeler and dealer in the finance world and has himself a mistress in the real world. Things get complicated when certain frauds are questioned as he is trying to desperately sell off his company to interested buyers.

All of this worsens when an accident forces him to come clean with himself but keep quiet to his family. It gets real when the detective (Tim Roth) investigating the accident sets his eyes on Miller with laser precision. Not only will Miller have to use his vast resources to cover up the accident but also he will have to use his wits to keep the truth about his company’s shady dealings locked tight. Arbitrage is one whacky game show.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the last good Richard Gere film that I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s been quite a while. When Arbitrage came in I got excited. It’s got a great cast and the storyline seemed intriguing. I am a fan of legal and financial procedural films. It’s neat to see how some of the more dubious members of this society live.

I liked that Arbitrage had to main plots going at the same time. There was the potential acquisition of his company that they kept back and forth on and the then the police investigation into the deadly accident Miller was involved in. I liked how the film took its time and took turns on focusing on those issues separately before finally merging (ha, financial pun!) the two towards the end. It never felt sloppy or rushed.

Richard Gere kicked ass in his role as Robert Miller, Susan Sarandon was excellent as his wife and Brit Marling played a very convincing business partner. She actually has a degree in Economics from Georgetown University in real life, so that helped in making her character extremely convincing. Tim Roth was also excellent as Detective Michael Bryer who will do anything and everything to get his man. His character takes the “by any means necessary” scenario to a new level.

Arbitrage is under two hours, never boring, and almost always exciting. It originally premiered on various VOD (video on demand) platforms before opening in limited release. It’s now available on Blu-ray and DVD and it’s highly recommended.

Video 

Arbitrage is presented in 1080p, 1.78:1 widescreen (16X9). The high definition picture presentation is a peculiar one, because there are several instances where the image appears extremely soft, usually the daytime scenes, and then extremely sharp and detailed during the night time scenes. I’m going to assume that this was inherent to the source since it was shot really fast and on a modest budget. Interior shots fair much better than the hazy daytime shots. Flesh tones appear natural and never flush. Black levels are consistent and I never picked up on scenes of crush. Sharpness was also kept in check and the color palette was very subdued, with exception to the scenes at the artist’s apartment. It’s a slightly above average presentation.

Audio 

Arbitrage is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround sound. Arbitrage is primarily a dialogue driven film, so one would not expect a big bombastic surround sound track to accompany the presentation. That’s where you’re sort of wrong. The LFE is noticeably absent for the majority of the film. It’s an almost 5.0 presentation for about 98% of the entire film. Weird. Aside from the lack of a LFE, the overall audio presentation of Arbitrage is very aggressive. It’s aggressive but not in a bad way. Dialogue is clean, crisp, and no echoing or other anomalies were present and every channel (minus the subwoofer) was extremely active

Extras 

Arbitrage comes packed with a couple of superficial featurettes that don’t necessarily add much to the final presentation of the film. What does elevate the package is the very cool and very informative audio commentary by writer-director Nicholas Jarecki. This is his first feature film, so the insight of what went into the making of the film from script to filming is actually pretty interesting. Deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary are also included.

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Nicholas Jarecki
  • A Glimpse into Arbitrage Featurette
  • Who is Robert Miller? Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Director Commentary

Summary 

Arbitrage was an interesting character study of how one man who has everything is not above losing it all over bad judgment. The difference that’s illustrated with a man like Robert Miller is that even when things are going wrong for Miller, he has unlimited resources to correct them.  That’s not necessarily a good thing in the context of the film. Arbitrage was a pretty awesome movie and I look forward to more of Nicholas Jarecki’s work.

 

Order Arbitrage on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

1 Response to “Arbitrage (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I tend to find Richard Gere boring, but I’m actually excited to check this one out.