Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer – movie review

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Movie Review by Anna Payton

Stars: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi
Director / Writer: Joseph Cedar

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, from director Joseph Cedar (Footnote, Beaufort, Campfire) is an intense sociological study depicting the convoluted intricacies of the New York Jewish community.

Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) runs an Oppenheimer Strategies, a one-man-band company specialising in providing businesses and individuals with any desires they may have. This presumptuous, albeit vexatious, ‘fixer’ sees a business opportunity in an elaborately elicited relationship with Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) prominent, up-and-coming Israeli politician. When Micha becomes the Prime Minister, Norman’s suddenly heightened social status makes him the go-to-person of the town, but his intricate web of alleged local connections take a foreseeable strain.

Norman’s shrouded in mystery domestic life and often irritating vagueness of his actual line of work, not only provides indisputable grounds for a comprehensive character-led study, but also for a film to explore the egoistical technicalities of a ruthless business world and the self-centred people inhabiting it.

Gere’s powerful performance with a multifarious and provoking edge propels us to, together with Norman, cringingly and rather abhorrently weasel our way into people’s lives.

An unwelcomed pest, Norman naively meddles and complicates, driven by a detectable persistent goodness of his heart and perhaps the need to quash the heart-breaking alienation and solitude in his life.

The film takes on a form of cinematised theatre play structured into ridged acts announced with intertitles, perhaps unnecessarily foretelling the upcoming plot. This also can be said about the superfluous presaged title of the film.

However, Cedar’s witty script shrewdly navigates us into the engaging animosity of Norman’s somewhat engrossing and intriguing demeanour, even though we are positioned to expect this ‘good swimmer’, as he calls himself, to eventually drown. The devious predictability of the plot doesn’t by any means take away from the surprising relatability to the character, for which we secretly root for.

Overall, it is a highly recommended watch and a disguised grim warning of the tragic outcomes of business naivety and over-optimistic opportunism. Gere’s performance is sure to stay with you forever.

6 out of 6 stars