Norman

Norman

(2016)

The moderate rise and tragic fall of a New York fixer.

Richard Gere is Norman, a New York fixer in this Israeli-American drama from writer-director Joseph Cedar (winner of Best Screenplay at Cannes 2011 for Hearat Shulayim). Co-stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Michael Sheen and Steve Buscemi.... More

"This absorbing character study stars Richard Gere as Norman, a seasoned 'macher': a man who knows the right people and gets things done. When an Israeli dignitary, Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), visits New York, Norman decides to make an impression by buying him some extremely expensive shoes. A gold-star connection is made, but three years later Eshel winds up becoming Israel's prime minister and is suddenly hugely inaccessible. Norman's circle begins asking him to write cheques he can no longer cash — and the fallout could destroy the reputation Norman has spent his life building." (Toronto International Film Festival)Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 1 ratings, 1 reviews
Reviewed & Rated by
Your rating & review
Rate / Review this movie

BY cinemusefilm superstar

If there is a theme in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2017) it may be that sycophantic fixers are everywhere. They are the loners who gravitate towards successful people, offering favours, dropping names, and arranging introductions to ingratiate and elevate themselves. They are driven by self-interest and thrive in communities of self-interest. Politics is full of them.

The ‘fixer dynamic’ drives the film’s titular character, Norman Oppenheimer (Richard... More Gere). He is a lonely middle age Jew without visible means of support except for being a life-size parasite on other people. The archetype of a pathological liar and dreamer, his modus-operandi could be labelled corrupt in an ethics debate: he flatters, panders, and gives gifts to those richer or more powerful, always manouvering for return on investment. By chance, he latches onto low-ranking Jewish politician Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) and gifts him a pair of outrageously expiensive shoes. They lose contact, but Norman has bought the right to drop his name anywhere. Three years later, Eshel is elected Prime Minister of Israel and Norman attends the celebrations. They re-unite and Eshel repays Norman by inviting him into the tent of influence where he is quickly out of his depth. As an inveterate fixer, he builds a complex web of promises that mostly cannot be delivered. While he does some good for some people, his house of cards eventually collapses and we are invited to judge where moral culpability lies. For every successful Eshel there are scores of Normans.

Richard Gere’s superbly enigmatic characterisation of Norman is the heart of this dialogue-driven film. He is irritatingly unlikeable, like a fly on a hot summer day, yet somehow endearing. He is arrogant yet vulnerable; desperate for acceptance yet with few admirable attributes. His story is whimsically satirical rather than funny and at times it wobbles precariously on the inter-personal dynamic between two unpleasant stereotypes, Norman and Eshel. Some filming gimmickry, like split screens and freeze action scenes, is unhelpfully distracting and two hours is a long time for a character study. But with clear echoes of Woody Allen-esque existentialism, this film outs the fixer caricature that feeds voraciously in circles of influence. In professional domains they are called lobbyists.Hide


The Press Reviews

  • Gere presides over it all with an impressively self-effacing portrait of a man who, while you wouldn’t want to experience him in real life, remains fascinating onscreen from beginning to end. Full Review

  • What’s best about the film is how Cedar and Gere have dreamed up a character who’s equally desperate and preternaturally ingratiating. Full Review

  • [Gere] gives a strong performance as a desperate social climber in this fractured drama that works best as a flawed character study. Full Review

  • In another strong late-career role, Richard Gere plays a New York hustler whose ambiguous connection to the Israeli prime minister causes trouble. Full Review

  • Norman is pitched somewhere between comedy and character-driven drama, succeeding as neither. Full Review

  • Gere, his Cheshire-cat smile only improving with age, has found his most essential role, one that pushes his smooth operator's desperation to the limit. Full Review

  • This delicate, novelistic character study is what more American independent films would be like if more were made by thoughtful grown-ups who gravitated toward nuance and complexity. Full Review

The Talk
100 %

Want to see it

What say you?