This weekend I saw “Arbitrage”, the feature directing debut of Nicholas Jarecki (he also wrote the screenplay). It was quite good — with Richard Gere, Tim Roth, Stuart Margolin and Nate Parker much more than merely good — until the final plot twist.
At that point, mere minutes from the end, character coherence and believability were thrown out, all subtlety was sacrificed, and we were asked to believe that one of the principal characters had suddenly transformed into a psychotic villain from a bad B movie.
When this happened, I could feel the audience deflating around me, everyone in the theatre simultaneously saying to themselves “What the F—?!?!”.
From the perspective of “an American commercial movie”, it was clear why this choice was made. The idiotic plot twist conveniently balanced out the “moral scales” in a way that a movie studio would think an audience would like. It made complete sense in terms of formula. Just not in terms of the actual film we had been watching.
I would like to think that Jarecki was not responsible for this betrayal of what had been, up to that point, a well constructed movie. I would like to think that his movie was hijacked by rewrite demands from some clueless suit at Lions Gate Entertainment flushed with arrogance at the recent commercial success of “The Hunger Games”.
At least, that’s what I would like to think. It would be too awful to think that the writer himself simply destroyed his own story.