Richard Gere plays Norman Oppenheimer, a man who’s trying to find a place beyond his reach inside in the fringes of the New York political scene. Early on, he echoes the finest character performances of Dustin Hoffman, all quirks and over-friendly talking and in close conversation and although people like Norman, they also appear uncomfortable with his over-zealous nature which, in turn, means he unintentionally pushes people away.
As he continues to force his way into the lives and places of those wants to deal with, it’s clear he has a disjointed history with them and, quite often, those in power are weary of his intentions. On the flipside, you can tell that Norman isn’t a cruel or unkind man, he’s just trying everything he can to make a better life for himself but his aging years and storytelling obsession is getting tiresome, and now colleagues are only nice to him because he’s so polite with his intentions.
After Norman meets Lior Ashkenazi’s Micha Eshel, a young up and coming politician, he thinks he’s finally found his way up the government ladder offer Norman helps him and Eshel says he’ll help him if he ever goes to Israel. After not hearing from each other for a while, and a few years pass, Eshel becomes Prime Minster of Israel and remembers Norman and offers him a job. The film is really a tragicomedy and set in acts, much like a play, and I enjoyed seeing Gere doing something I hadn’t seen him do before. One of the most interesting moments is when he meets Charlotte Gainsborough’s Alex Green on a train, a woman who seems low in self-esteem (as he was once) but you’re unsure of her intentions, and concerned about his over-honesty. Will his over-friendliness be his downfall?
Director Joseph Cedar offers us Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer as a character study and what happens to normal people trying to give themselves a better life. For Gere, as well as the aforementioned Hoffman, there’s an edge of Woody Allen but it’s not quite as snappy as his work and the whole package digresses a little when they endeavour to expand the story. This isn’t saying there aren’t good performances from all involved but the film loses focus and, because of this, your attention every now and then. Norman is a decent drama, and Gere brings something different, but it’s often lost in over-explanations and could easily benefit from a shorter run time.