Arbitrage movie poster

Director Nicholas Jarecki sets out to make you sympathize with a scumbag, and comes very close to succeeding. Yes, his protagonist is a rich Wall Street bastard, trying to game the system in the age of Occupy and Bernie Madoff. Yes, he's a philanderer, waxing familial at his birthday party and then slipping out to visit his mistress. Yes, he's a coward, trying desperately to weasel his way around the law after accidentally killing said mistress, and maybe throwing an old family friend under the bus in the process. So why root for him? Partly because he lives a life that is, on its exterior, lovely and desirable; partly because of the way he strives to uphold his own sense of privileged morality ("People depend on me!"); but mostly because he's played by Richard Gere, in a performance that both exploits and restrains the actor's bad-boy charm. With Tim Roth, Susan Sarandon. 2012.

Matthew Lickona

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