A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Arbitrage -- a grown-up thriller set in the world of high finance -- will likely be of more interest to parents than to most teens. There's one major violent scene (a car crash with a dead body and blood), as well as some threatening and arguing. Language is fairly strong, with about a dozen uses of "f--k" and a few uses of the "N" word. The main character (played by Richard Gere) has an extramarital affair and is seen kissing and having implied sex with his mistress. The mistress is shown snorting cocaine at one point. Adult characters drink scotch and wine at social gatherings; some characters smoke cigarettes.
What's the story?
Hedge fund tycoon Robert Miller (Richard Gere) has made some bad deals and is secretly trying to sell his company before it goes under. He desperately doesn't want his wife (Susan Sarandon) or his daughter, Brooke (Brit Marling) -- who works for him -- knowing about the trouble. After work, he goes to see his mistress (Laetitia Casta), who dies in a horrible car crash when Robert falls asleep at the wheel. He decides to leave the scene, hoping to avoid any more negative attention. But a relentless police detective (Tim Roth) has Miller pegged and seems determined to try anything to get a conviction. Meanwhile, Miller's entire defense hinges on a young man named Jimmy (Nate Parker), who has yet another secret connection to Miller.
Is it any good?
Writer/director Nicholas Jarecki makes his feature debut with this refreshing movie, a combination of intelligent, grown-up writing and entertaining, audience-pleasing filmmaking. ARBITRAGE focuses on well-drawn, mature characters making emotionally truthful decisions, but at the same time, they face some very tense, larger-than-life situations. Oddly, most of the scenes are built around character interactions; there are only a handful of "thrill" moments.
This allows for very intense, focused performances, especially by Gere as the tormented lead, but also by Sarandon as his wise wife. Up-and-comer Marling has a few powerful scenes with Gere, challenging his authority, and Roth is relentless and ferocious as the detective. The movie's main drawback, however, is that it feels like it could have gone further in either direction; it might have benefited from either more depth or more thrills.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Arbitrage's violent events. Which feels more intense -- the car crash sequence or the scenes in which Detective Bryer confronts the main character? Why?
Is Robert Miller right to hide his activities and problems from his family? Could they have helped? Should families tell each other everything?
Are there any role models in this movie? Why would we root for Robert Miller when he's made so many bad choices?
What does this movie have to say about the current financial crisis?
- In theaters: September 14, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 2012
- Cast: Brit Marling, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth
- Director: Nicholas Jarecki
- Studio: Roadside Attractions
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, brief violent images and drug use
For kids who love thrills
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.