Composed By: Cliff Martinez

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Milan Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the suspense thriller Arbitrage, Richard Gere is New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller, the portrait of success in business and in his home life...on the surface that is.  But in reality, Robert is barely treading water, desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before his fraud can be revealed.  At home, he tries to keep his fraudulent business dealings from his loyal wife (Susan Sarandon) and daughter (Brit Marling) while conducting a secret affair with a French art dealer (Laetitia Casta).  But on big mistake pushes him over the edge and into the crosshairs of an NYPD Detective (Tim Roth) who will stop at nothing to catch his man.

                The musical score of Arbitrage was created by American composer Cliff Martinez, who began his musical career at the height of the punk movement as a drummer for such notable bands as Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weirdos, The Dickies.  In the mid-80's, Martinez made his foray into musical scoring and, perhaps due to his time in the punk music scene, his scoring techniques are less than traditional.  Since he began his scoring career, Martinez has amassed quite a résumé of work, including the musical scores of Kafka, The Limey, Solaris, Grey’s Anatomy, Schizopolis, TrafficPump Up The Volume, Wicker Park, Wonderland, The Lincoln Lawyer and Drive.

                The music of Arbitrage features guitars, keyboards and percussion - musical instruments that you might find in your average rock band - rather than a full orchestra.  And yet, despite veering away from the orchestral music that would normally be used for a film of this caliber, somehow Martinez is able to express extreme emotion.  Without ever seeing the movie, the listener realizes that the main character is in one helluva jam and is about to embark on an emotional rollercoaster ride filled with pain, fear and anguish. 

                The last few tracks of music on the Arbitrage Soundtrack contain songs by various artists, including a horrific track by Björk (I See Who You Are), instrumental rock by You Say Party! and jazz by Stan Getz, Billie Holiday and Robi Botos.  Of the songs on the album, I found Just One More Chance by Billie Holiday and My Foolish Heart by Robi Botos were not only the most enjoyable, but best represented Robert Miller and his recently turned upside down life. 

                But, in reality, these music tracks seemed out of place with the musical score of the film which I found to be hauntingly compelling in nature.  Martinez perfectly captured what the main character is going through throughout the film using a unique style and technique.  Where most composers would have opted for a traditional orchestral score, Martinez delivered with simplistic keyboards, guitars mixed with electronic sounds and reverb to achieve an emotional score that captivates the listener.  In my opinion, compared to his most recent work, Cliff Martinez has outdone himself with the musical score of Arbitrage, making the Arbitrage Soundtrack an album worth taking a listen to.


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