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Downfall of a Master of the Universe
on March 22, 2017
Trading on themes expressed in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, Arbitrage is a morality play targeting elites for a proper comeuppance. Gere plays Roger Miller, a hedge fund manager, whose illicit conduct places him under suspicion for both manslaughter and financial crimes. To say anything more would spoil the pleasures in the narrative. Taut, intelligent and suspenseful, the film suffers occasionally from writer/director Nicholas Jarecki's fawning over his power player protagonist and his unwillingness to stay true to the character's ugliness. Miller is, and should be, depicted as an unrelenting bastard trading people like commodities but a bit of softness creeps into the characterization unconvincingly. Nevertheless, the script is smart, cast exceptional (save for Tim Roth, whose NY accent is overcooked) and the film works in some sly ambiguities. Despite the aforementioned compromises, this type of sophisticated adult entertainment is rarified air and worth seeking out.