There’s a subtle shift in the character of Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) that makes for a surprisingly fascinating story of an addiction that’s not actually to power. That seems to be the direction writer/director Joseph Cedar’s narrative will take, as the wheeler-dealer Norman manages to befriend on-the-rise Israeli politician Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) who eventually becomes Prime Minister. But while Norman’s motivation initially appears to be the money and power he can accrue from his connections, Gere’s performance turns this story—beginning from a terrifically-directed sequence at Eshel’s inauguration party—into a cautionary tale about the simple rush to a lonely man of being That Guy, the one who people listen to because he can make things happen. Cedar remains perhaps a bit too coy about Norman’s enigmatic back-story, and misses a chance to develop Eshel’s own ambition more fully. Through several slick montage sequences, however—showcasing a sensational supporting cast including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Steve Buscemi, Michael Sheen and Dan Stevens—Norman paints a sad and sympathetic portrait of how being needed can turn into a substitute for being loved.
Director: Joseph Cedar
Producer: Oren Moverman, Gideon Tadmor, Eyal Rimmon, David Mandil, Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, Jim Kaufman, Amanda Marshall and Caroline Kaplan
Cast: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dan Stevens, Hank Azaria, Harris Yulin, Josh Charles, Yehuda Almagor, Neta Riskin, Dov Glickman, Tali Sharon, Miranda Bailey, Scott Shepherd, Jonathan Avigdori, Andrew Polk, Jorge Pupo and Maryann Urbano
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer