Storied actor Richard Gere stars in Norman: The Moderate Rise And Fall Of A New York Fixer, a film about a mediocre man’s attempt, through sheer will, to put his life into a better place. Let’s face it, we all secretly desire to be part of the cool crowd. The difference is, who do you consider cool? For Gere’s Norman, cool are people with power and influence, and that’s who he wants to hang out with. However, does Norman have the power or influence to get people to watch the film?
Richard Gere carries this film like
Atlas with the world on his back.
The story goes like this: Norman Oppenheimer is a “fixer” or what’s sometimes referred to as a “Court Jew.” Others might use terms like huckster or even con-artist. Norman spends his life trying to get as close as he can to people in power. Norman does this in a few ways, but often by saying some very important person (VIP) is “his friend.” Norman befriends a young Israeli politician who later becomes a VIP and changes Norman’s life for better and worse.
Richard Gere carries this film like Atlas with the world on his back. Gere is oddly compelling, like a character out of a Woody Allen movie. It suits much of the film which feels inspired by Allen’s works. Gere’s performance, cadence, and accent are so flawless that it could be mistaken as the actor’s actual speaking voice. Gere chameleons here and it’s fun to watch.
The characters around Gere each play their part well. Steven Buscemi is a rabbi who is every bit as fantastic as it sounds. Lior Ashkenazi is the Israeli politician who balances out the somewhat ridiculous nature of the film. But perhaps it’s Hank Azaria who steals the show in a cameo as an alternative Norman.
As the title suggests, Norman is of moderate entertainment value.
Norman is a comedy of sorts, but one that never produces huge laughs, just smart chuckles. The first act of the film is mind-numbingly slow, but it’s serving a purpose. The movie is a slow-burn kind of film that builds and builds, becoming more and more absurd while never leaving reality completely behind.
The writing is sharp but sometimes offset by directing choices that are inconsistent. The best parts of the visuals allow the dialogue and performance to become the focus. At other times, it seems to try a bit too hard to be artsy. But perhaps the weakest aspect of the movie is the overabundance of music that’s repetitive. It reminded me of old school video games with limited music that just kept repeating time and again. While the music in a film should have a theme running through it, here it’s somewhat monotonous and distracting.
As the title suggests, Norman is of moderate entertainment value. It’s never hitting hilarious highs, but it also doesn’t bog itself down. Although, the film does cater to a specific audience, specifically one who enjoys dialogue and theatre.