More than impure greed?

This is my review of Arbitrage [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC].

Not expecting too much after some lukewarm reviews, this proved to be a well-made drama, part psychological study, part thriller, a tart comment on the greed and sharp practice recently revealed in the world of hedge fund trading.

Although not quite in the same league as Bernard Madoff, Robert Miller appears to be a successful and ruthless business tycoon. At the outset, we see him celebrate his sixtieth birthday in style with his apparently loving wife and family but the cracks in the facade soon begin to show. Miller’s angry frustration over the elusive James Mayfield’s reluctance to sign the contract for a major purchase is explained once we realise that an old associate of Miller’s is threatening to pull the plug on a business loan, without which a large hole in the company accounts will be exposed.

When Miller goes to seek solace with his beautiful but possibly loose-cannon mistress, events begin to spiral out of control in a series of mishaps. Is Miller wily enough to save himself when fate seems to have turned against him so abruptly?

There are several dramatic exchanges between, for instance, Miller and the persistent detective played by Tim Roth, or Miller and the young black man he turns to for help, improbably until the reason is explained. Although you can enjoy this as a lightweight piece of entertainment, this film explores the personalities of the main characters and moral issues raised by the pursuit of wealth, power and personal satisfaction. Is Miller more than a cold-hearted money-grubber who has to win every battle?

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars

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