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.