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On Your Radar: ARBITRAGE
by Karen Pecota

Filmmaker Nicholas Jarecki lands a spot at Sundance in the non-competition category for feature films with his directorial debut ARBITRAGE. A few years ago, Jarecki wrote a bestseller Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start, which jolted his film career in a most unusual way. His writing aspirations led him to pursue writing and directing a documentary The Outsider. His story for this project was to follow and give account of one of the twenty directors he featured in his book (mentioned above).

Intrigued with the U.S. 2009 financial crisis he read everything he could get his hands on about the topic. He came across a series of essays published by Vanity Fair analyzing the economic crash called The Great Hangover. It was in these essays that Jarecki encountered intensely personal and very tragic stories of key players in the financial world that either made them more successful or destroyed them.

Jarecki wrote the screenplay for ARBITRAGE not from a true story but from a combination of stories and actual knowledge he had from being a business owner, as well as, the son of two commodities traders. These contributed to the theme for his feature film.

Jarecki's narrative examines what happens when New York City's rich get richer from the suffering financial markets. The depth of his message comes from answering such questions as: Who these people? What happens when their money becomes a problem? Are these people good people? If one gets richer to they become corrupt and lead complicated lives? Who do they answer to for moral accountability? What is their family like? Do they protect their family or simply themselves?
Jarecki chooses Arbitrage as the perfect title for his film. Webster dictionary defines the word as ...the simultaneously buying and selling of currency, securities, and commodities in different markets or in derivative forms in order to take advantage of differing prices for the same asset. Anyone in this type of work has to be more than savvy. Working all the angles and keeping it in check involves more than taking risks with other people’s money… it is sheer vanity.


Robert Miller (Richard Gere) and wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) are one of New York City's finest wealthy couples. People have no problem gravitating to them for a variety of reasons. Robert is one of the financial world's top hedge-fund gurus and Ellen, his trophy wife--loved by all is heavily involved with fulfilling philanthropy projects. The couple has two successful children. Those looking on the outside would be envious of such a wonderful couple and their adorable family. But, if they only knew the depth of business fraud that Robert's empire was involved in, or the knowledge of Roberts’s mistress, those looking in his world would want no part of his deception.

Robert turns 60 years old and his family surprises him with a very elegant birthday party. The celebration is strained and each family member resolves to only engage in trivial conversation. Robert being the worst! Anxious to leave the party he uses work as his excuse. Ah! But, instead of heading to the office he has another type of work in mind. He visits his mistress Julie Côte (Laetitia Casta) and the opening of her art gallery for a birthday celebration he desires. Infatuated with her presence Robert convinces Julie to roundez-vous with him where the two can be alone for a few days. On a whim they leave their troubles behind. But half-way to their destination they are in a serious car accident leaving Julie dead and Robert dazed. The remote location of the accident works in Robert's favor as he continues to cover- up his life of duplicity. The accident takes his deception one step further. The suspense of Robert's actions make ARBITRAGE a narrative thriller devoted to charting the path of the wealthy where rules and a code of ethics do not apply.