Arbitrage... sounds like a straight to the DVD bin title. It's advertising and poster did little to entice my rush to the theater either. Despite this we must remember the old proverbial adage about books and covers. Because this, my friends, was a very well made thriller.
I went to this movie because I noticed Ebert gave it 4 stars. He generally is sparse with that honor so I decided to see it and was glad I did. I look at multiple other publications as well but usually take Ebert's word for it even though I may disagree with him 50% of the time. Critics are important. You read or listen to critics of movies, art and what have you, to help guide your choices, and hopefully, add to the experience with their vast knowledge and exposure to the subject. It doesn't mean they are always 'right', however. It's taxing, you have to weigh your subjective tastes and life experience against your, nearly impossible to obtain, objective viewpoint. Add these together and try to put forth the best rhetorical prose you can to convince a certain demographic to view the piece and pay your respects to what you critique at the same time. You must have a passion for what you criticize. You shouldn't be a critic otherwise. I'm always amazed at how many people 'criticize' the critic for being stupid or just plain wrong but the truth, it seems, is generally reversed. The more knowledge you gain and time you spend with a subject, the more right you have to say anything worthy of ear attention. Who decides when you have acquired enough perspective is anybodies guess—but will probably be apparent to those that know their subject. I digress.
Anyway, Arbitrage is a financial morality tale in which Richard Gere takes center stage as a troubled millionaire. He cheats on his wife, his 'quickbooks' and really, life in general. You grow to like his character anyway and find yourself rooting for him to pull through like most all antiheroes. It's interesting to me that you find your personal ethics swayed during the course of the movie towards overlooking his obvious and blatant wrongdoing, yet if the film ended happily you would find it internally unacceptable. This is nothing new. The early gangster films of the thirties would never let the gangsters win in the end because they felt it promoted crime with no punishment in return. It also somehow feels morally wrong for bad guys to win. They do in real life though, so it's an interesting intrinsic moral paradox.
I don't usually include plot synopses in my reviews because I find them boring and unnecessary. I try to give a fresh, sometimes sporadic view on how a film makes me feel—with a few tid bits of info you may not have known prior, hopefully to inspire your desire to view or not to view. Always get a second opinion from someone you don't know and always from someone you trust. I just hope to lead your feet and mind to places and ideas that will hopefully be enriching in some way. I hope you come here to find out what I have to say because you have decided to respect what I think, even if you don't always agree. I would do the same for you. Leave a comment if you don't and we'll hash it out! I digress again. See Arbitrage.
Recommended Viewing: Unfaithful - The Hoax - Primal Fear
Bob Scale: The Critic: 8.0 - The Fan: 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 84