First off, way too long of a title. Second off, Richard Gere’s performance is absolutely amazing and one of his best. Third off, not a bad film at all! NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER is about a Jewish business man, Norman Oppenheimer, desperate to make contacts to make a name for himself, that buys a pair of expensive shoes one day to a low-on-the-totem-pole Israeli politician, whose life dramatically changes when that politician becomes the Prime Minister of Israel three years later. Thankfully, the film doesn’t just rely on Gere’s performance but shows an interesting aspect to politics and deal making in general that pulls the entire project away from mediocrity to a film a recommend watching one day if you have the time.
You haven’t heard of this film? Of course you haven’t, it is only playing in independent cinemas and Cinemark Legacy right now, but it did run pretty well in the festival circuit earlier this year and last year. Watching Norman going around and trying to make all these contacts and business deals that he doesn’t know whether he can fulfill or not is very intriguing and nerve wracking. You want to believe in the character of Norman so much that you want to see him pull all of this off, but know that the man is actually grasping at straws. When he triumphs, the audience feels it, but when he fails, it hits the audience deeper, knowing that the newfound success could of in no way lasted because of Norman’s other handshakes that have been going on.
And I’ll say this, the movie completely sticks the landing, meaning the ending. The ending is one of the best parts of the movie, with all the pieces of the puzzle and all of the holes being filled. It’s an emotional climax that will truly make you think. Don’t worry, won’t spoil it here, but that leads me to the case that the title of this movie is the worst thing about it. Not only is it too long, but it is also kind of a spoiler per say. They should’ve just called it Norman The Fixer or maybe it’s original title Oppenheimer Strategies. But there have been movies with atrocious bad titles that have ended up being good, so just add this one on to the list.
The supporting players in this, while small, are good, but ultimately just serve to boost Gere’s performance. You have a lot of famous faces like Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, and Dan Stevens, that fill in really unimportant roles that were mainly hired to boost up the poster and get people in seats. I should mention that the Israeli Prime Minister, played by Lior Ashkenazi, is the only other sort of stand out performance in this. That’s the only other really meaty role, especially toward the end. But Richard Gere alone should make you want to watch his film. He has always been an extraordinary actor but here he is masterful. He has all of Norman’s tics, facial expressions, and concerns down pat, and I would watch this movie again simply by just watching his performance alone and leave out the story elements.
But like I said, the story elements make the entire film work. This film isn’t a masterpiece per say, but it is very, very good. This is one of the films I am more likely to remember down the line than not, especially it’s masterwork of an ending. My only real complaint about the film is the title and a little of the pacing in the middle. But if that is all you have to complain about, best to maybe keep it to yourself.