Arbitrage (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus knows Richard Gere killed his mistress but can't prove it in this review
Robert Miller (Richard Gere) has it all. A hedge fund manage at the top of his game, he has a loving wife (Susan Sarandon), a doting family and a deal on the table that will secure his legacy for years to come. But when he falls asleep at the wheel and kills his mistress (Laetitia Casta), Miller's world quickly starts to crash down around him, especially when he's pursued by Detective Bryer (Tim Roth) who sets his sights on bringing Robert to justice.
Initially this one seemed to play like an intelligent, calm headed drama. Dialogue is soberly delivered from characters who are confident in what they do and I was hoping first time director Nicholas Jarecki would treat the fairly formulaic plot the same way. He doesn't. Gere may not be the crowd puller he was a couple of decades ago but his performance is as always level headed and he carries the film with ease, playing warm family man, big businessman and behind the scenes adulterer struggling to keep a secret with the same level of charm.
When the accidental death of Robert's mistress comes around and the story becomes about keeping a lid on the situation, Robert flees the scene and everything gets more tense and much more desperate. Tim Roth's detective sniffing out the truth comes across a little Columbo-esq with that sense he knows the truth already but he's not scared of cockily toying with Robert until he sweats out a confession. Sadly, despite all this ramped up drama, the story plods along with all the expected ups and downs you'd expect and while it don't end with a series of chase downs and a confession, the 'cooler' ending never quite has the impact to counter taking those elements out.
The presentation here has a cool grey tone to it with plenty of creamy soft edges. Skin tones are usually a bit more orange than natural, especially in low lit scenes. In homes faces glow, in cars they can often come with a light purple wash to them. Either way, the black elements are not always solid enough around the lit areas and with softer edges the image can sometimes feel a little bit grubby.
Daytime office based scenes feel lit much like the darker scenes. Wide office windows letting in tons of natural light are boosted with interior room bulbs even when they don't feel necessary. This makes everything glow with an orange edge once again and always keeps the film feeling like a movie than a real world drama because of it.
The longer I watched the film and the more the focus shifted to solving a crime, the more the film started to look like most TV cop shows. Not so much the orangey Gere scenes but more the Tim Roth scenes which seemed to come with a starker greyer appearance. These were very typical in the visuals department but often seemed to feel a bit sharper edge wise due to the reduction in warm lighting and more natural feeling light sources.
The film is largely dialogue heavy and it's all strong and central throughout. Layers are structured well with crowds and street ambience reaching out to the rear speakers. Restaurants and fuller rooms feel fairly alive with cutlery tinkering away and muffled conversations building in and out of the channels to create a mood. The devastating car crash ups the bass and hammers home every slam and crunch of the spinning car and is really the show off moment for the disc, despite its short time on screen.
The score underpins rather than drives and it's used for tension building in all the conventional ways when it comes to mainstream drama. It stays level headed and keeps the mood changing as the plot's twists and turns come around and while its nothing special it certainly refrains from going too melodramatic. The odd music track on the soundtrack feels rich and full and all in all the 5.1 track gives us everything a fairly straight up twisting drama should without showing off about it.
The disc opens with the Stuck in Love trailer, then we're on to the commentary with Nicholas Jarecki. It's an enthusiastic listen and he's full of passion about his his cast, especially when it comes to Richard Gere and getting to know him. He talks of the film's struggles to get to screen and his experience as a first time director and how much he learnt making the movie.
Fans of Columbo and the angle that we already know who-dunnit but the fun is in watching them squirm until the truth comes out should get a kick out of this Arbitrage, however the focus here isn't the detective side of things, so don't expect a "Take him away boys" ending here.
The disc looks okay but is quite soft around the edge and the audio ticks all the right boxes but is sort of uninspiring overall. Extras wise, there's nothing but an enjoyable commentary, so all in all, nothing too exciting here.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 15th July 2013
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Stereo 2.0 English
Subtitles: English HoH
Easter Egg: No
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth
Length: 102 minutes
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