The financial thriller is a tricky thing to get right: there’s only so many times a devious elderly white man in a suit can toss around phrases like ‘hostile takover’ and ‘corporate bias’ before it starts to become confusing or dull. ‘Arbitrage’ is the debut feature from documentary director Nicholas Jarecki and it successfully mitigates potential tedium with a combination of twisty plotting, rock-solid performances and a slippery sense of morality gone askew.
Richard Gere is hedge fund manager Robert Miller, whose lovingly paternal exterior hides a heart of solid steel. A road accident leaves Robert in an ethical quandary and he uses every means at his disposal to try and get off the hook – partly motivated by his being on the verge of a long-anticipated merger. Aided by a chillingly blank and charming performance from Gere, Jarecki strolls this moral tightrope with surety. We despise Robert for his misdeeds while at the same time we revel in his triumphs, forcing us to question our own responses to a financial crisis started by men with equally great hair, and just as few scruples.