NORMAN – Rated R – 1 hr 56 mins  –  (The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer)

bf34f0f77051e61cf4edf25d8d914f82

NORMAN – Rated R – 1 hr 56 mins  –  (The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer)

Starring Richard Gere, Michael Sheen, Lior Ashkenazi and Steve Buscemi and Hank Azaria

Written and Directed by Joseph Cedar, we meet the charming, yet somewhat delusional Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere), deciding what his new big fix will be, in the world of high-powered New York business and society…

When his nephew Philip Cohen (Michael Sheen) tries to convince “the ol’ man” that maybe its time to retire, it only lights a fire under Norman, who is convinced that his services can totally assist his new acquaintance, the young and talented ascending Israeli politician Micah Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi).

As fate would have it, Norman’s sharp wit and way about town does seem to help his new friend, who is climbing the social ladder not only here, but back home in Israel too.

Nestled on the fray of what he views as fixable in both helping his friend rise to greatness in the political world, and assisting his synagogue and Rabbi Blumenthal (Steve Buscemi) with finding the funding to keep the church open too….it seems that Norman may have bit off more than he can fix this time around. Now, what’s a Jew to do, as his world comes crashing down around him, as the reality of what he can fix, and what is reality, truly starts to sink in…

I give NORMAN a rating of wait and catch this film on DVD or NETFLIX: Cedar’s sometimes funny, mostly tragic and at moments anti-semitic take on the world of fictional character Norman, wasn’t as enjoyable as I was hoping it would be, as a fan of Gere’s work over the many years of his career.  From Cedar’s decision to cast Non-Jewish actors to play very Jewish roles (I’m thinking this action in itself must have been planned as a very tongue-in-cheek joke as well) to the way that parts of this film are as tragically slow as Norman’s ability to decipher fact from fiction in his own life.  Needless to say, no matter how hard I tried along the way throughout each and every passing frame, I just couldn’t get totally into this film. Sadly, NORMAN sets out to make us love this character, and the frailty of human existence, but tragically misses many a step or two along the way, taking away from the truly above average performances by Gere, and his supportive cast of Ashkenazi, Buscemi, and Sheen too.  Thus, making this film an even more tragic Jewish tale, than even Cedar set out to do…

Kathy Kaiser