Richard Gere schmoozes in amiable 'Norman'

Norman (Sony Pictures Classics)

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Fall of a New York Fixer
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Joseph Cedar
Writer: Joseph Cedar
Starring: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen
Genre: Drama
Rated: R for some language

Synopsis: Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is a guy who knows a guy. But that guy he knows might not actually exist. He’s a kind-hearted schemer who somehow manages to befriend a soon-to-be influential world leader.

Review: Norman Oppenheimer is enigmatic. He wants to know everyone, but doesn’t want anyone to know who he really is. He may have only met you five minutes ago, but, if it serves his purpose, he’ll transform the casual conversation into a life-long friendship. He wants to form connections, but isn’t really all that interested in connecting with the world.

“Norman” is one of those films where it is difficult to determine if Oppenheimer is a pawn in someone else’s grand scheme or if he is a master manipulator who is always in control. I’d suggest that he’s the sort of person who knows how to leverage a little bit of power when the opportunity arises, but that he’s just as much a train conductor on a runaway train as he is a brilliant schmoozer.

Richard Gere is fantastic as Oppenheimer. He’s amiable, but not exactly the sort of person you’d want around. A gambler with a warm smile and sense of befuddled innocence. It might be a front, but then again, it might not. Gere sells this perfectly.

Lior Ashenasi, Michael Sheen, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Steve Buscemi and the rest of the supporting cast, which has to do less heavy lifting because of Gere’s performance, are equally effective.

There’s nothing particularly flashy about “Norman,” but if you’re looking for a genuinely interesting character study, then there is a lot to enjoy in watching the film.

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