DIR/WRI: Joseph Cedar • PRO: Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, David Mandil, Oren Moverman, Eyal Rimmon, Gideon Tadmor • DOP: Yaron Scharf • ED: Brian A. Kates • DES: Kalina Ivanov, Arad Sawat • MUS: Jun Miyake • CAST: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen
The central question of the new Joseph Cedar film Norman (full title Norman:The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer) is who is Norman Oppenheimer? The film calls Norman a fixer and he calls himself a consultant. He is a shameless individual who schmoozes business men and politicians by making promises to them that he can rarely fulfil and telling them tall tales to exaggerate his contacts in a world that relies on how good your contact list is. However, there is an innocence to him and the viewer is left wondering what his motivations are? Is his goal money or influence and does he believe what he is selling?
The film takes place in the Jewish community of New York in the cutthroat world of international finance and politics. Norman’s fate changes when he manages to befriend an up-and-coming Israeli politician called Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) by buying him a pair of shoes and therefore making a long-lasting impression. This alliance leads to a brief period of time where Norman acquires the influence and connections he desires when Eshel becomes the Israeli Prime Minister. Richard Gere is excellent as this enigmatic character who is the driving force of this film. Gere is in nearly every scene and although we don’t always empathise with Norman, we are continually fascinated by him.
Cedar has a fine cast, including Martin Sheen, Dan Stevens and Steve Buscemi, but Gere stands out with an excellent performance showing that his range continues to expand as he gets older. Cedar creates a tense atmosphere which gives us a look into this tough New York environment where a strict class system is held. The film drags a little in the middle, but comes together in the final stretch wrapping up the ending in a surprising way. We are left with the central question still in the air… who is Norman? We may never know, but Gere makes our 2 hours with him compelling viewing.
Ailbhe O’ Reilly
15A (See IFCO for details)
Norman is released 9th June 2017