I enjoy long distance flights as I get the opportunity of watching all kinds of new movies, which I would not spend the time and money to watch at home. Sometimes they are just feel good movies – sometimes they touch something inside me, allow a deeper understanding. Which is what movies are about to the actors and director. At least I hope so.
Arbitrage – the short description did not really catch me.
“A troubled hedge fund magnate desperate to complete the deal of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help.”
Sounded like just another business movie. Mmmh – should I watch it?
The main characters attracted me – both Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon usually feature in films with some depth. Well, at least lately. Not sure you can call “Pretty Woman” a film of depth – certainly a well-made movie and one I thoroughly enjoy watching for the n-th time. And “Thelma and Louise” - that certainly was both entertaining and thought-provoking.
So I decided to go for it.
A wealthy business man, running a successful capital firm – big money, big society. Beautiful wife, intelligent daughter, kind of pale son. And a lover. A french artist which he supports also by acquiring her art.
I started to squirm... sooo cliché. And a cliché I know, as I come from a well-off family, with a beautiful mom and I am smart.... well – I would not question my dad´s fidelity. That, then, was my part of the story: married to a successful business man, building a comfortable living, 2 beautiful smart daughters – and he had a lover. Here you go – story touches me, yet seems so... cliché.
Interesting turn of events – business is in trouble and the guy walks a tight line between fraud and normal business. Or rather – he covered something up. He is good at that, very smart, always in control, thinks of everything. Money can do a lot.
Now – this lover – she is upset, as lovers are, because she wants more, wants him for herself where he just sought the aliveness which is missing at home, after decades of routine.
So they go out for a night alone – highway, driving after a long day... he half falls asleep – and they nearly hit a truck – car tumbles over, he is hurt yet alive. But his lover.... she is sitting on the seat beside him – dead. Shock. Disbelief – shit … all the consequences of this accident... everything might come out in the open, at a crucial moment also of his attempted sale of his company.
Furious, he kicks in the door of his car and stumbles out – looking back in disbelief and pain at his dead girl-friend. Just up the road a fuel-station – with a pay-phone. Already his head is working how to get him out of this mess. On his way to the fuel-station, the car explodes, destroying a lot of evidence. Here is a way out for him.
I do not want to summarize the entire movie – just setting the scene. A wealthy man, in a lot of trouble: company sale risks to go bad, bankrupting all he build up plus bringing to the surface the bad investments he made. The lover, discovered, risks to threaten the perfect family surface.
So he decides to lie – to cover up. And all the film is about near-discoveries – disloyalty – lies lies lies.... even the detective, who has the right gut hit on who the culprit is, and who wants the “bad wealthy guy” behind bars – falsifies evidence – and falls on his nose, as in his role, Gere even out-smarts him.
Again and again I asked myself – why do I watch this movie? So many lies, cliché, where is the message? Where is the depth?
The daughter discovers her father's lies and is shocked as she comes to see the “hard truth” of business life. How even her adored father cheats.
He gets out of it all – sells his company just in time, unmasks the detective´s trick – all seems well. Until he meets with his wife in the bedroom, prior to an evening appointment.
She sits, quietly sipping a drink. And asks whether everything is fine – and you see, she knows. All the time the action seemed to be with him – the beautiful wife, holding it together in the background.
Suddenly springing to action – she feels her daughter´s pain, yet no one tells her the details. She sees her husband´s physical injuries of the accident, yet he does not tell her what happened. Pretends to cover up.
In this final scene – the veils are lifted: she faces him down, about his affairs which she knew about, about the pain he caused their daughter – not only that but risking her future by implying her in his fraud – a deal breaker for the wife, who now fights back with his weapons:
She has a separation agreement drawn up, which leaves him with empty hands, yet secures the well-being of the rest of the family. And offers a deal: either he signs the papers – and she will tell the police he was home the night of the accident – or if he does not sign, she will tell the truth.
He tries to shout her down, to threaten, does not believe she would dare do this. Yet – she firmly calmly holds her ground. The kitten turned lioness fighting for her home.
It was when I watched Susan Sarandon facing down the untruthful business man, using his own tools against him, that I understood why I watched the film.
The move from couple in love to family to stuck in roles – finally one turns to a lover.
Convenience to stay together – as long as it serves both. Quietly respecting their obligations and roles, yet the closeness, the love, the trust and openness of the couple got lost along the way.
Does it always have to be like that?
Loosing respect of the different roles: the breadwinner belittling the wife at home for the little charity she does – when she is the heart of the family. And the wife, mistaking the absence of the husband for disinterest – when he did the breadwinning part.
Puzzling to me, how the closeness of a couple flips to disrespect of roles.
An old Native American saying I read someplace: “It is the role of the woman to guide the man on the path of his soul. It is the role of the man to make sure his woman can treat this earth safely.” - brings it home to me.
A different understanding of roles. The breadwinner and the path of the soul – the material and the emotional well-being: two very important roles for a family. Different, yet equally vital – respect for the bread winner, respect for the home maker. Have we lost this in our current fight for equal rights? Could we have misunderstood the term “equal rights”?
Are the rights of women equal to the rights of man only in the work place? Is equality about the opportunities to do as a man does? Well, if it is your calling – please do so.
Maybe, equality is also about equal respect for each path chosen. Respect the stay-at-home mom in her role as much as the working mom as much as the business man.
Respect each person on their personal chosen path. No judgement – respect.