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Norman: The Moderate Rise And Tragic Fall Of A New York Fixer



Released: 9th June 2017

Directed By: Joseph Cedar

Starring: Richard Gere, Michael Sheen

Reviewed By: Van Connor

What’s the Yiddish for joie de vive? It’s a question lingering in the elegant construction of this wheeler-dealing drama in which Richard Gere’s contemporary “Court Jew” Norman Oppenheimer finds himself the unlikely central figure of New York’s Jewish political and business community. Sporting a career-best turn by Gere, an electric screenplay by director Joseph Cedar and a story that bounces just as much as it dwells on emotional downturns, Norman makes for unmissable dramatic fare.

Squirrelly but sympathetic, Gere’s Norman is an earnestly watchable figure – his optimism as a lowlevel Israeli politician befriended years earlier becomes the new Prime Minister utterly investible, his frustration at the hoops such a relationship forces him to jump through absolutely enthralling – all sold with seemingly effortless grace by a performer at the top of his game. Gere’s been on something of an indie-drama upswing for several years now, with Norman marking the actor’s ascension to bonafide Oscar-calibre work that’s as deserving of such a statue as it is to be overlooked.

Gere’s performance has something of a knock-on effect with those around him, the chemistry afforded his co-stars allowing for a range of almost equally top-shelf supporting roles from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Big Bad Wolves star Lior Ashkenazi – whose integral role here shows remarkable crossover potential in Western cinema that studios would be foolish to deny the Israeli actor to build on in years to come.

Cedar constructs a frankly marvellous tale – structured with the reserve of a stage work, injected with the dialogue driven energy of a Woody Allen comedy, and bound together in the sophisticated trappings of a flighty prestige picture. As tragic as it is absurdly humorous, it’s “The Player does politics”, Gere goes Ari Gold, and an irrefutable stand for a man largely forgotten by the mainstream today to garner the recognition he so richly deserves.

Keeper of Lola M. Bear. Film critic for Movie Marker, TalkRADIO, and others. Producer of podcasts. Skechers enthusiast and blazer aficionado. All opinions my own.