Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Arbitrage Movie Poster Image
Intelligent, grown-up thriller has some violence, drugs.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A character learns that lying to his family -- even while trying to protect them -- ends up costing him a great deal more than if he had told the truth. This lesson comes late in the story, but it does come.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is interesting; he does some abominable things, but when he keeps information from his family, he does so to protect them and to keep from hurting them. Overall, he earns viewers' sympathy, and he does seem to realize that what he's doing is wrong; it's just too late for him to turn back. The movie also has some strong female characters, specifically the main character's daughter, Brooke.


This isn't a violent movie, but there's one shocking scene with a car crash, a dead body, and blood; it's an event that changes the main character's life. Otherwise, the movie has many scenes of arguing and threatening, especially in the scenes involving the main character and a relentless police detective.


The main character is cheating on his wife, and viewers see kissing and implied sex between him and his mistress.


Several uses of "f--k," plus the "N" word, "a--hole," and "goddamn."


Several Zappos boxes are shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A secondary character snorts cocaine in one scene; she may or may not be a habitual user. Adult characters drink wine and/or scotch at parties or at dinner. Secondary characters are shown smoking cigarettes.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 and 17-year-old Written bybestdadever October 1, 2012

Amazing Movie, Great for teens.

It is a little violent, but it has a great story. I think most teens should be able to handle this amazing thriller. I saw it with my two sons, one is 14, the o... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe Cheap Seats February 2, 2013

Power is the Best Alibi

The director's intention comes across as unclear but Richard Gere gives a powerhouse performance and Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling lead the supporting ca... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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