Last week I did a phoner with Arbitrage director-writer Nicholas Jarecki. Here’s the mp3**. I’ve been cranked about this New York-based melodrama since Sundance, which I called “a solid Sidney Lumet potboiler…tough and real, aromatic and well-threaded.” It contains Richard Gere‘s “best performace in a long time” and a serious, stop-the-presses, pop-out performance by Nate Parker.

Jarecki’s process in refining the screenplay and editing the film was thorough, methodical and painstaking. Therre was also a lot of rehearsing involved. The work shows. Every step of the way the film feels tight, realistic, fat-free.

Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions wil unveil Arbitrage on 9.14, theatrically and simultaneously on VOD.

Gere plays a smooth but fraying-at-the-seams trader-financier involved in high-stakes flim-flammery and a manslaughter cover-up, and he’s not doing one of his slick operator turns. He’s really gotten hold of the soul and raison d’etre of such a guy, and not in a way that encourages outright hissing, curiously enough. He’s never lovable, but is always half sympathetic, in part because you can’t help but admire his ability to keep going and deflect the gathering chaos.

Parker is the dude you remember after Gere because he plays a kind of pawn in the tale, but in a way that exudes rock-solid character and dignity. This is a breakout role for the guy, trust me.

Tim Roth is highly flavorful and amusing as a colorful Colombo-type detective. Also excellent are Susan Sarandon (as Gere’s wife), Stuart Margolin (Gere’s attorney), Brit Marling (his oddly idealistic daughter), Laetitia Casta, Josh Pais and Larry Pine.

** I’ve mistakenly left a blank “waiting for Nic” section in at the very beginning of the recording — it finally starts about 60 or 70 seconds in. I’ll fix it this evening.