It is difficult to comprehend why Richard Gere has not been recognised by the Academy. Despite a distinguished career, he has never even been nominated. In any other year, his prowess in Arbitrage would have at least guaranteed a nomination. Arbitrage serves as his magnum opus: at 63 years of age, Gere delivers a resounding performance.
Arbitrage marks director Nicholas Jarecki’s foray into feature films. Gere shines in his first major role in four years as a hedge fund magnate. On the surface, he possesses it all: opulence, eminence and a closely knit family. However, a closer look delineates that he is leading a perfidious life on both professional and personal fronts.
Following a catastrophic error in judgment, his life begins to spiral beyond his control. Circumstances compel Gere to use the considerable resources at his disposal to stop the disclosure of his dirty laundry at a critical juncture in his life. The director deserves an honorable mention for constructing a compelling depiction of Gere’s struggles to deal with the imminent implosion of everything he holds dearly. Gere’s character scrambles to halt his life from unraveling.
Gere’s triumph as a performer is his ability to tread in that grey area between good and bad, right and wrong. Upon scrutiny, he is a duplicitous executive living a double life. After he is left with the ruins of his blunder, the viewer can relate to his shortcomings on an individual level. His stellar realisation ensures that he never lies in either a black or white area, making his character facile to associate with in that regard.
Perhaps the most vital lesson learnt from Arbitrage is Gere’s personal battle with his own morality, a key theme in the film. His exertions also offer a fascinating chronicle of how one man’s reckless choices adversely affect those in proximity. In this particular instance, the supporting cast does an excellent job of illustrating the ramifications of his detrimental actions.
Although admirably supported by Oscar winner Susan Sarandon, Oscar nominee Tim Roth and the resplendent Brit Marling, Richard Gere is undoubtedly the main attraction. Make no mistake, Gere renders a cogent performance as the protagonist. The success of the film hinges solely on his dexterity and repertoire of emotions. Gere is able to find the perfect blend of composure and charisma. His virtuoso rendition of a tycoon with susceptible motives allows the viewer to associate with him as an afflicted person dealing with the unwarranted outcome of his ill-conceived decision making.
Last but not least, the desperation of the lead character to conceal his secrets by any means necessary, regardless of the repercussions, makes for a dramatic spectacle. Arbitrage also exhibits the harsh lesson that people can be bought and treated as a commodity. Unfortunately it’s found wanting in the final act, culminating in an underwhelming finale.
Nonetheless, Arbitrage represents a respectable debut for Nicholas Jarecki and a potent portrayal by Richard Gere. His range of acting talent provides a thought provoking and engaging experience for the viewer. He proves to be well worth his Golden Globe nomination and adulation from critics as well.