Favours And Comeuppances

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
Roxy Theatre
4 out of 5

Unlike other former A-listers roaming in  Hollywood’s periphery (Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford), Richard Gere has gone the indie route and his career is all the better for it. Gere has been killing it. The little seen Arbitrage, The Double and The Dinner have all shown unexpected versatility from People’s Sexiest Man Alive, 1999.

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is the best of the bunch. Gere pairs with the brainy Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar (Footnote) to paint a distinctive canvass in NY’s Jewish community.

Norman Oppenheimer (Gere, acting his age) is a so-called consultant, a man who helps people get stuff from other people (a donation, a meeting) for a finder’s fee. His dodged persistence is annoying to most, but once every blue moon Norman gets results. A stroke of luck comes in the form of Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), an Israeli politician who, unbeknownst to either, would go on to become prime minister. Norman helps Micha at a low point and the two become friends.

The relationship elevates Norman’s status from undesirable to highly sought but also puts the hapless fixer at the center of a net of favours, gifts and kickbacks that takes the previously pleasant comedy to dark places.

Superbly written and acted (Steve Buscemi, Michael Sheen and Charlotte Gainsbourg appear in minor roles), Norman does an impressive job managing many threads and bringing them together in an unthinkable ending.

Norman has a full grasp of every predicament he is in, but misses the big picture: the one right there in the title. /Jorge Ignacio Castillo