Although it is opening in fewer than 200 theaters this weekend, critics are suggesting that you pass up the movies playing in thousands of them and take in Nicholas Jarecki's Arbitrage starring Richard Gere. This is Jarecki's debut as a writer-director, and it is an auspicious one. Writes Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal "It could readily be mistaken for the work of an experienced and justifiably self-confident filmmaker with a nose for newsy stories, a knack for telling them tersely, and a gift for directing actors." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times lavishes similar praise on the young (33) director, who, he writes, "proves himself a master craftsman with a core of moral indignation. He knows how to make a gripping thriller, so well-constructed I felt urgently involved. Arbitrage is an Example of good writing and sound construction at the service of plausible characters. It tells a story rather than relying on third-act action. It is in a classic tradition." But, as the central character -- an aging and unscrupulous Wall Street shark -- Richard Gere may have delivered the most impressive performance of his career, according to most critics. Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune calls it "one of his most quick-witted performances." Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times agrees. "The actor has quite possibly never been better," she remarks, adding, "Gere makes the study of the man mesmerizing" The character may be involved in all manner of illegal shenanigans in his professional life and may be pursuing adulterous affairs in his personal life, but, says Rafer Guzmán in Newsday "Gere gives this fraudulent kabillionaire such warmth and charm that we actually start rooting for him." But the question some critics raise is, should you be? Manohla Dargis of The New York Times writes parenthetically in the conclusion of her review "Movie stars pull you in, no matter how ostensibly vile their characters." And Ty Burr of the Boston Globe suggests that Gere's character should have provoked anger and outrage but fails to do so. Maybe, he suggests, the problem may lie in the fact that "Gere, as pleasant as he is to watch, is the wrong man for the part."

14/09/2012