Review by Dustin Heller
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is a new compassionate and humorous drama starring the legendary Richard Gere as the titular character. The film is written and directed by Israeli auteur Joseph Cedar whose 2011 drama Footnote was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. Alongside Gere, the film stars Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Norman is Rated R for some language.
Norman Oppenheimer is a lonely New Yorker who is always coming up with financial opportunities that never seem to come to fruition. In search of meaning and friendship in his life, Norman truly has nothing to offer and his networking leads him nowhere. That is until he makes a connection with a struggling Israeli politician whose career seems to be heading nowhere.
Fast-forward three years and a number of favors from Norman and the once struggling politician is now the prime minister of Israel. This success gives Norman a sense of purpose and importance, and he begins to put together his biggest deal yet. In the process, he makes some promises he might not be able to fulfill. As the deal begins to spiral out of control, Norman is also faced with a potential catastrophe that could have an international impact.
If nothing else, Norman is a great opportunity to showcase the talent of Richard Gere and his range as an actor, but the film itself falls flat and doesn’t measure up to the lead performance. The storyline of the film is actually pretty interesting and filled with potential, but it gets lost in all of the prolonged and redundant conversation. It seemed like Norman was talking on his cell phone for more than half of the movie which really got annoying after a while.
The running time is almost two hours and it would have been much better served to come in around an hour and a half. There were far too many phone conversations and voice messages that could have been cut out altogether. Although the movie did drag on a bit, it was still somewhat entertaining and was not a complete waste of time.
The ending of the film really came out of nowhere for me and was a pleasant surprise. All said and done, Norman isn’t a film you need to rush out to the theater to see, but worthy of a view once it hits on-demand or your favorite streaming service.
Norman opens in theaters on Friday, May 19