Norman (2016) Poster

(2016)

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7/10
It seems mediocre, but that's what makes it great (That and Gere himself)
subxerogravity18 April 2017
So, I understand what a Hollywood fixer is, which gave me an understanding of what Norman does, although I'm still a little confuse on how his version of being a fixer makes any money, but that's one of the points of the film. Richard Gere plays this guy who likes to help people out. He likes to connect the dots and do favors for people and get favors in return, so he can do more favors for more people. It makes his life have meaning. Norman tends to over exaggerate his friendships with some people and the perks they come with as a way to connect with others, but as he finds out, some circles can get you into big trouble when you embellish too much.

This was a good role for Gere, he made Norman a very interesting man to watch. Charismatic and witty even when the chips were down. A very good performance. Also like Hank Azaria in the film as an up and coming fixer who brings Norman face to face with himself. Very amusing.

It's a very New York movie. Really loved how the film is centered around a section of the Upper West Side and never leaves it

Another tone setter was the music. The score was beautiful and lively. Not only that but they had a few scenes of the temple choir singing songs in Hebrew. It was really cool.

Norman, makes for a good flick. Nicely paced and never boring with Richard Gere still pulling off an interesting leading man.

Fun to watch.

http://cinemagardens.com
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7/10
a whimsical character study of a lonely Jewish fixer
CineMuseFilms6 June 2017
If there is a theme in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2017) it may be that sycophantic fixers are everywhere. They are the loners who gravitate towards successful people, offering favours, dropping names, and arranging introductions to ingratiate and elevate themselves. They are driven by self-interest and thrive in communities of self-interest. Politics is full of them.

The 'fixer dynamic' drives the film's titular character, Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere). He is a lonely middle age Jew without visible means of support except for being a life-size parasite on other people. The archetype of a pathological liar and dreamer, his modus-operandi could be labelled corrupt in an ethics debate: he flatters, panders, and gives gifts to those richer or more powerful, always manouvering for return on investment. By chance, he latches onto low-ranking Jewish politician Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) and gifts him a pair of outrageously expiensive shoes. They lose contact, but Norman has bought the right to drop his name anywhere. Three years later, Eshel is elected Prime Minister of Israel and Norman attends the celebrations. They re- unite and Eshel repays Norman by inviting him into the tent of influence where he is quickly out of his depth. As an inveterate fixer, he builds a complex web of promises that mostly cannot be delivered. While he does some good for some people, his house of cards eventually collapses and we are invited to judge where moral culpability lies. For every successful Eshel there are scores of Normans.

Richard Gere's superbly enigmatic characterisation of Norman is the heart of this dialogue-driven film. He is irritatingly unlikeable, like a fly on a hot summer day, yet somehow endearing. He is arrogant yet vulnerable; desperate for acceptance yet with few admirable attributes. His story is whimsically satirical rather than funny and at times it wobbles precariously on the inter-personal dynamic between two unpleasant stereotypes, Norman and Eshel. Some filming gimmickry, like split screens and freeze action scenes, is unhelpfully distracting and two hours is a long time for a character study. But with clear echoes of Woody Allen-esque existentialism, this film outs the fixer caricature that feeds voraciously in circles of influence. In professional domains they are called lobbyists.
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Best post-matinée idol role & performance by Richard Gere
lor_14 April 2017
When I see the term "The Fixer" I recall Alan Bates in the now-forgotten Frankenheimer film from the Bernard Malamud novel of that name. A more definitive portrait is limned by Richard Gere as an archetypal (or stereotypical) Jewish character in Joe Cedar's "Norman", a performance that is near-perfect and marks the full transition of Gere from his pretty-boy stardom of decades ago to great character actor.

Casting gentiles in most of the major Jewish roles in this film should not be controversial, as certainly all recent Mafia epics have cast Brits, Irish and Australian actors in the Italian parts for the obvious reason that Italian actors, even De Niro, are tired of the ethnic gangster stereotype unless it's a comedy or spoof. Gere creates a memorable and unique character that avoids the obvious clichés.

Just as in "Pretty Woman" he so ably played second-fiddle to his co-star Julia Roberts (in the role that made her a star) here Gere is actually overshadowed in the charisma department by his amazing Israeli co-star Lior Ashkenazi as Eshel, a minor Israeli politician befriended (for purely self-serving reasons) by Gere as Norman Oppenheinmer, Eshel later becoming his country's powerful prime minister.

Norman is a finagler (I couldn't place the proper Yiddish word to describe him), with a compulsion to inveigle his way into people's good graces usually in the manner of a "cold call" handled in person, in order to make them beholden to him for future payoff. It's analogous to the premise behind Puzo's "The Godfather", in which Don Corleone does favors that ultimately will be paid back when the time is propitious, and is best described in the film's wonderful hand-drawn charts which Kevin Bacon-like link people together in complicated diagrams. Besides its obvious content, the film works on a different level to show the negative side of our era's current craze for "networking", a practice that has been enshrined as the cure-all for unemployment (or underemployment) at a certain level of society but which in this case involves extreme, insidious manipulation.

Starting with buying the visiting Eshel an expensive pair of shoes as the Israeli visits New York City on government business (Isaach De Bankole as the shoe salesman is the first of numerous terrific small- role performances by instantly recognizable actors who usually have leading parts in movies), Norman compulsively fabricates far-fetched stories of his linkage to everybody while creating tenuous links in order to concoct complicated schemes, which he calls "Strategies" on his business card.

He's a mysterious figure, always clad in his camel's hair overcoat and seemingly homeless as we never see him except in public places, usually on the phone via earphones pestering folks. On the surface he is a bore -the type one meets at a cocktail party or in the next seat on a plane and makes one wish to escape from his barrage of intrusive blather.

But writer-director Cedar not only humanizes Norman but by the end of the film makes us see the good that results from his weird projects, even though Norman himself faces a tragic fate. A stumbling block for me to get into the picture was Cedar's rather forced and overly fanciful use of tropes from the school of "Magical Realism", often showing the characters, even as far away as one in NYC and the other in Israel, staged on the same set as if together, ultimately making much of the film seem like merely a fever dream hallucination in Norman's brain rather than actually occurring events.

That "is it real?" aspect is already in the script by way of the constant prevarication and self-delusional assertions Norman makes, always exaggerating his own importance. He's not a liar per se, but as Kellyanne Conway has so vividly put it, a believer in alternate facts. When called on it, he tries to weasel his way out of a corner, but much of the film's effective black humor stems from the fact that the audience is privy to both sides of the story.

Fate is a crutch that Cedar uses to keep the pot boiling but makes most of the movie's twists and turns too far-fetched to be believable. I would have much preferred an organic, unpredictable story line rather than the too-tight, very contrived approach, but that is the auteur's prerogative. These characters, especially Norman, have no degrees of freedom, while good (if conventional) writing is based on giving protagonists enough degrees of freedom to make choices and thereby create viable drama based on the consequences of their specific choices.

In addition to Gere's thoughtful and always in character bravura performance and Ashkenazi's empathetic brilliance (he was great in an earlier Israeli film called "Footnote" that deserves to be more widely known), the spot roles so beautifully enacted include Charlotte Gainsbourg popping up and underplaying in chilling fashion as an Israeli prosecutor/investigator crucial to the story's payoff; Steve Buscemi cast against type as a duped Rabbi, who later shows the explosiveness fans have come to expect from the "Boardwalk Empire" star; Michael Sheeen, perfect as Norman's hapless and put-upon nephew; Harris Yulin as a tough NY power broker; and especially Hank Azaria, briefly astounding as Norman's unlikely doppelganger. This type of self-effacing ensemble is what the Screen Actor's Guild created its best "Cast in a Motion Picture" award to honor.
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8/10
Gere wrings sympathy out of a truly annoying character
vsks25 May 2017
Full title of this Joseph Cedar movie is Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer. Norman the person is not very likable. He stands too close when he talks to you, he's relentless in searching for an angle, he's quick with the half-to-full-lie. But in Richard Gere's nuanced portrayal, initial discomfort turns to something more like sympathy. How he's treated by the people who see him for what he is becomes simultaneously justified and painful. The sympathy is possible because Norman isn't angling to benefit himself, at least not financially. He only wants to feel important, that he matters in the world, yet he remains "always just a few capillaries removed from the beating heart of power," says A.O. Scott in the New York Times. When he has a setback, and he has plenty of them, you see the gears turning until he hits a way to make the best of it. When Norman "bumps into" an Israeli diplomat and does him a favor, right there you know the seeds of calamity are planted. I won't say more about the plot, which is complicated in the delicious way that only someone like Norman could complicate it. Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi plays the diplomat; Michael Sheen plays Norman's put-upon nephew; Steve Buscemi as the rabbi of a financially distressed congregation is "a marvel of wit and off-kilter humanity," Scott says; and Manhattan plays itself, beautifully.
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10/10
Like "a drowning man trying to wave at an ocean liner," he's "a good swimmer"
howard.schumann21 May 2017
In Israeli-American director Joseph Cedar's masterful film Norman, The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, a ridiculously expensive pair of shoes given as a gift leads to a friendship between rising Israeli politician Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi, "Encirclements") and Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere, "Time Out of Mind"), an American businessman, consultant and, in the Yiddish expression, "gonif," defined as a disreputable but not entirely crooked individual. Like Eliezer Shkolnik, the aging Talmudic scholar and philologist in Cedar's 2011 film "Footnote," Norman is persistent in his longing for prestige and recognition by his peers.

According to Cedar, "The tragic weakness of Norman and his ilk is that for them money acts as a substitute for intimacy; money is identified with power and influence…his only way to connect is to lie, and people know that." Norman, brilliantly played by Richard Gere in one of his best performances, is a lonely man in his sixties living in New York but very much a cipher and we know nothing of his background other than his claim to being a widower with a college-age daughter. Given his tendency toward exaggeration and outright lies, however, its veracity is undetermined. Alex (Charlotte Gainsbourg, "Independence Day: Resurgence"), a government worker who he meets on an Amtrak trip tells him "Everyone knows who you are, but no one knows anything about you." Always looking for connection, Norman makes contact with little-known but charismatic Israeli politician Micha Eshel, currently deputy minister of Industry, Trade and Labor who is visiting New York. Trying hard to endear himself to Eshel, Norman persuades him to browse in an upper crust shoe boutique and ends up buying him the most expensive shoes in the store. The fixer seems to have hit pay dirt when he learns three years later that Eshel has been elected Prime Minister of Israel, but the relationship turns out to be a mixed blessing. Not knowing whether or not Micha will even remember him, Norman waits in a greeting line to shake his hand at a victory party and is ecstatic when Eshel not only remembers him but gives him an effusive hug.

When he asks him to serve as intermediary between Israel and the New York-based wealthy Jewish community, it is Norman's moment of triumph over those who have marginalized him over the years and opens doors that were previously closed to him, even though Duby (Yehuda Almagor, "Intimate Grammar"), Eshel's aide, wants to keep Norman as far away from the Prime Minister as is humanly possible. Now wielding the power that has always eluded him, Norman tries to use Eshel's name in negotiating transactions with Norman's nephew Philip Cohen (Michael Sheen, "Nocturnal Animals") who needs a rabbi to preside over his wedding to a Korean convert, and Rabbi Blumenthal (Steve Buscemi, "Horace and Pete," TV series) who needs to find a donor who will contribute to the synagogue.

Norman's dubious wheeling and dealing, however, catches up with him and he finds himself in deep personal and legal trouble. Never one to lose self-confidence, when he is told that he's like "a drowning man trying to wave at an ocean liner," he responds, "but I'm a good swimmer." The problems, however, have serious international repercussions and recall many instances of the exchange of money and gifts have led to the downfall of many prominent American and Israeli.

Though Norman is an archetype and, in some ways, resembles the stereotyped "court Jew," often used as an anti-Semitic reference, we can relate to, if not admire him as a flawed human being who, like many of us, wants very much to be loved and respected. We empathize with him for no reason other than that we share a common humanity and we may know from experience that there is often a thin line dividing the upright from the outcast.
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5/10
Good swing, but a miss
jmc476930 May 2017
This movie definitely has some things going for it. It has an intelligent script and great acting by Richard Gere and the rest of the cast. But in the end I could not get past how annoying Norman is. In real life you couldn't stand to be around this type of person for more than five minutes. Yet he is in almost every scene. To make matters worse, we don't get any backstory for Norman and no scenes with his family and friends. His private life is a total mystery. We never even get to see him sitting down for a meal with his acquaintances. All we see is scene after scene where he is trying to manipulate someone for some advantage. And ultimately this becomes so annoying and monotonous that it doesn't even matter that Norman is doing it for altruistic reasons.
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8/10
A Thoughtful, Playfully Sophisticated Reflection
Joseph Cedar's English-language, U.S.-Israeli co-production starring Richard Gere does not disappoint. Gere does a great job playing the titular role, a Manhattan consultant who has a knack for enticing powerful people. He meets a prominent Israeli politician in New York, and ends up offering to buy him an expensive pair of shoes. Later, the man becomes Prime Minister of Israel, setting the stage for major conflict. The script in this film is excellent. It is both witty and sophisticated at the same time, perfectly blending complexity and playfulness. Such a blend also manifests itself in the film's tone, which is handled very well given the film's themes and subject matter. If there's one complaint I have about this film, it is that of the pacing: the four-act structure of the film could have been paced better, as the second and third acts seem to have relatively little substance relative to the rest of the film. Other than that fairly minor complaint, this is most certainly a great film. Definitely recommended. 8.5/10
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5/10
White collar hustler dabs with politics = slow, political b.s. and very pointless.
TheTopDawgCritic12 July 2017
Washed up older white collar hustler dabs with politics = slow, political b.s. and very pointless, and I do mean pointless.

I was hoping for some big climax, and granted I got some interesting story line towards the last 20 mins of this film, but not worth the wait. I considered giving up watching this to the end at least 4x since the start.

The almost 2 hours of this film needed to be edited down to 1:20 mins.

I still gave it a 5/10 only due to the outstanding performances by Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen and Steve Buscemi as the Rabbi, who really wasn't meant for this role. Every time I see him, I expect comedy, and this wasn't his character.

The ending was bittersweet, but the build up towards it was very slow and dragged out.

If you're into politics, especially Israel/USA issues, and like the scenery of NYC, then you may find this more enjoyable.

Only the characters barely held my attention.

It's barely a 5/10 from me.
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1/10
A Miserable Time Had by All
jasontheterrible4 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is a film about how an illicit media and obtuse public can take down a good man. Or, it is about how an obtuse man, cannot survive an illicit, capitalistic society, without cheating and lying. Or, it is about how a really good actor, can turn almost any worthless nobody into a hero, for a short time. Or, it is about how good Jews are at making connections, remaining cloistered and being Jewish, and how that can take one a long way. Or, it is about pure, unadulterated misery. How a film that is so dismal, nonsensical, and devoid of all humor and depth, can ever be made. The pivotal scene for me, was when this idiot Norman forces himself on a truly miserable, lesbian shrew, working for the justice department, and freely tells her he gave the brand new Prime Minister of Israel, a super-expensive pair of shoes, to curry favor, and it worked.
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5/10
Help
jfss-691912 August 2017
I don't understand Norman. Was it pride that motivated him? A need for recognition? How did he make a living as a "fixer". I'm not dumb, but the movie makes me feel like I am. The acting was great, the personal relationships were well depicted, multifaceted stories being told were very good. Yet I still need some help to understand Norman.
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10/10
What a terrific movie for the afternoon
susiejohnson-2810013 July 2017
I enjoyed the acting of Richard Gere in this movie. He did an excellent portrayal of Norman as a messed up fixer and you love and get annoyed by him all the same. The intricate nature of the characters plays out like a play and the backdrop of New York feels very well placed. The camera angle of certain characters and situations are well done and give you your hints on what is about to play out and they do but all in a very neat little package. This is an enjoyable story for all ages. Just amazing acting all around. No car smashes, blowups or guns. So nice to sit back and see real characters portrayed. A true joy.
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4/10
Norman good movie but with some faults IMO
lar_lef31 March 2017
The movie "Norman" I would award 3 3/4 stars out of 5. Most of the movie was slow and repetitious. Norman's various meetings - especially the cameo ones-- could have been presented in a shorter version. What saved the movie, was the "4th Act", which was brilliant. I also thought the facial close-ups were overdone. As good as Gir was, I tired of this aspect, almost but not quite mugging. Of course the Israeli viewer can "enjoy" certain parallels to political corruption occurrences in the past- and maybe hints at the present "difficulties" of the present Prime Minister. If the movie had been shorter, it would have been better. It did mix nice satiric aspects with drama.
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4/10
Didn't Buy the Premise, Didn't Buy the Bit
GeneSiskel29 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
That a minor New York con artist, not to mention the up-and-coming Israeli politician he seeks to influence, would be so utterly naive about their interactions, as portrayed in "Norman," might have been intended to make for a feel-good movie that lightly touches on important political matters. But I couldn't buy the premise, so I couldn't buy the bit. The Richard Gere character, in particular, comes across as puckish, almost likable, and wholly transparent as a minor liar. Only the conversations between the Israeli PM and his wife and a few of his staff members seem at all authentic.

Accordingly, the redemption that arrives in the last reel struck me as forced and inauthentic. Maybe the film would have worked better as a musical.
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8/10
Good Movie
chilipeppers-1787919 November 2017
I liked the movie. I know it's fiction, but I always make an analysis as if it were true.

1. The guy who was stalking Norman, towards the end of the movie, and was a con artist, like Norman.....My question is....WHAT WAS THIS GUY TRYING TO CON FROM NORMAN?

2. The dinner at Arthur Taud's house. Norman got kicked out because Micha did't show up. When all the names of the guests were shown, they showed Mica's name,having a dinner seat, but not Norman's. And Mica's name was there because of Norman's con game. Norman was kicked out of the house because Mica wasn't there. So my question is....SUPPOSE MICHA HAD COME TO THE DINNER...WOULD NORMAN HAVE STILL BEEN KICKED OUT? AND IF NOT, WHERE WAS HE GOING TO SIT?
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3/10
Boring movie about a bullshitter
unfgreen25 July 2017
This movie was dull as dirt. Tremendous actors doing a fine job, but why. I suffered through to the end while enduring the criticism of those around me that gave up. Each time they walked through they'd ask what I was asking myself, "why are you still watching this?"

This movie has no redeeming human interest story either.
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A film that makes you think
Gordon-113 August 2017
This film tells the story of a consultant in New York, who plants seeds in the future by helping others. One day, he buys a pair of shoes for a diplomat. Years later, the diplomat becomes the head of state, hence he reaps his rewards.

"Norman" was called "Oppenheimer Strategies", which is a way more interesting name. "Norman" sounds bland and generic, and I wish they have stuck with the original name which is more mysterious and thrilling. Anyway, the plot is actually engaging and mysterious at the same time. At first, I find Norman a compulsive liar, but then I begin to think he might be genuinely helpful and kind. The ultimate culmination is unexpected, and makes me really think about Norman's actions and motivation behind the action.
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8/10
Peanuts Anyone?
westsideschl21 July 2017
Watched two names this evening - "Wilson" & "Norman". Both showed exaggeration, humor & satire to showcase characters. In "Wilson" Harrelson continues to improve these past few years in conveying unique & interesting characters. But, this is about "Norman" & Gere in that role. The first unusual aspect to this largely Jewish supported film is the recognition that Palestinians from an educated, objective & ethical pov deserve the freedom of their own land. Second, that connections and then money determine much more the direction of political actions than is often acknowledged. Third, kudos to the writer/director in bringing us a unique split screen pairing of characters. Smooth, and not disruptive to the flow of the film; captivating way to show communication between characters. Fourth, how our mysterious facilitator meets the youthful future. And, last you know that peanuts could possibly play a role in our closure.

As an aside this is one of the rare films out of NY that didn't follow dumb formula (e.g. rom-com) storyline. It was actually funny- intelligent.
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9/10
Small-time fixer achieves hardwon success.
maurice_yacowar13 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Don't let the New York setting and largely American cast throw you off. This is another brilliant examination of Israeli social and political issues by the American-born Israeli director Joseph Cedar. It's perhaps his funniest but still as insightful and heartfelt as his others, from Time of Favour (2000) through Footnote (2011).

Of course, the issues at play in this Israel ramify to cover other nations, other cultures, indeed humanity in general.

Two phrases define the film's central themes. One is the pledge for peace Israeli Prime Minister Eshel gives the US ambassador: "The opposite of compromise is not integrity. The opposite of compromise is fanaticism and death." The character like the country has offered myriad compromises for peace, striving to sustain their sense of justice and humanity — as witnessed in his phone-call to apologize to Norman, his "friend" about to be thrown under the bus in the interests of keeping the peace-making PM in office.

The second is "tzedokah" — the term that dominates the Hebrew liturgy we hear first in the choir's rehearsal, to which hero Norman retreats to find peace, and finally in the full synagogue performance. The word means "charity," the ultimate value in Judaism. The prayer is the Mi Shebeirach, the prayer for healing. This film is pitched as a prayer for healing in Israel and in the world. Norman proves the however unlikely figure of "the blessed" (what the prayer's title means).

This despite his early appearance as a pathetic and suspect hustler, a mix of the political fixer or influence peddler and the Woody Allenish loser, or nebbish. The "Norman" stamps him a normal guy, an Everyman, and the surname Oppenheim an ironic reminder of the wealth and power he doesn't have. Try as he may he will never become the "macher" or big wheel he pretends to be.

At first the hustler aggressively tries to "help" business and political figures by putting them together for possible profit. He's living off a modest inheritance from his mother (coincidentally his channel to Judaism too) but his eagerness to help others is tinged by his own need to make a living. The thousand-dollar pair of shoes he buys the down-at-luck Israeli minister becomes "the best investment (he) ever made" when that Eshel becomes PM.

Eventually Norman's vanity endangers that supposed friend's career. Norman's bragging to the woman from the Israeli justice department leads to an investigation that threatens to bring down the Israeli government. This business echoes PM Netanyahu's current allegations of accepting gifts or bribes from US businessmen. In Norman's case the alleged corruption is insignificant, especially in the context of its possibly exploding the current peace effort.

Norman rises from nebbish to tragic hero by transcending that pretence of charity, by sacrificing his life for the greater good. He not only saves his friend's government and thus the peace process, but he manages a traditional Jewish wedding for his nephew and his unconverted Korean wife, he helps the businessman whom he was trying to contact make a considerable financial killing and — through that — raises the $14,000,000 needed to save his synagogue from destruction. All those good deeds come about through Norman's compromise, which circumvents any possible complaints about "integrity." What counts is humanity in all its diverse character and needs.

At the same time as he is a realistic contemporary American figure — of the Sammy Glick and Daddy Kravitz persuasion — Norman is also The Wandering Jew. He has no family, no home, no definable background — and the nomad constantly wears his one camel-hair coat.

Norman is only one example of that mythic type — so in Srul Katz he meets his doppelganger, same pestering desire to "help," same card offering personalized "Strategies," same disturbing ubiquity. Katz is a seedier, possibly earlier version of Norman, so he may or may not rise to Norman's heroic resolution.

Heroism? Norman manages a particularly Jewish kind of heroic sacrifice. Ever hear of "death by peanuts"? The Lord moves in mysterious ways Her wonders to perform.

The film carries two kinds of music, the cheery folk melodies of daily Yiddish life and the sombre ageless antiquity of the Hebrew prayer. That balance characterizes Israel, the eternal Jewish state whose legitimacy — however questioned these days — rests on formal edicts from the League of Nations and the UN, not to mention Biblical history. In Israel everything smacks of both the fluent present and the echoing historic past.

So the individual fixer is also the mythic Wandering Jew. When Eshel recognizes and embraces him in public, Norman moves through a setting of frozen postures as if he were living in a separate time frame. So too the doubled reality in the scenes where characters from separated settings appear in the same shot. The here and now in Israel is always the there and then as well.
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4/10
Thematically correct
nstickney24 May 2017
Thematically correct, tactically incorrect. Nobody could grift so blatantly and badly and pathetically and slowly. Like watching paint dry in slow motion. And I just didn't care if Norman knew so and so or so what, show me the money. It never showed the money. I don't think there was money. My name is Norman and I never met a Norman who would not take a hit for the team and I never met a Norman who would lie like a rug just to get to lie some more. Maybe this is only a three movie. My first wife, who babysat for the manager of WBZ radio...
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7/10
A picture doomed to be misunderstood and therefore underappreciated.
Jaffe9 February 2018
This is my first time posting a review, but I felt that this picture in particular needs the introduction that I can give to it:

When initially asked if I would recommend this film I responded, "Ah, recommend? ... I don't think so." In retrospect, I think that it can be appreciated, provided that one understands the viewpoint of its Israeli writer/director.

I'll digress briefly to address the elephant in the room: Richard Gere. I was initially offended that he was allowed to (and that he had the gall to) play a Jew, but he was actually very good in the role. Without chewing the scenery, he showed that he's a talented actor who can "just go into character," and for him "less is more."

Now, there are two main points I think every viewer needs to know: First, it's a very Israeli movie (and that's what it is); you either know what that means or you simply do not. And, secondly, Israelis are looking for "the message" or "the lesson" of the film, which isn't clear, and most complain that "it has no plot." Non-Israelis, on the other hand, are left asking themselves if there are gaping holes in the film that are just not filled in, and thus find it "very confusing" or "totally unrealistic." I, however, understand what the director is going for. He's seeing Israeli politics through the eyes of 90% of Israelis (who all want pretty much the same thing: "to part with the Arabs"). Through that lens, he presents the image an ideal Israeli political candidate who's actually capable of making a difference (i.e. "peace"), and when the wheels start moving to oust him, as they do in Israel with any successful politician, our attention is focused on the internal conflict of his "Diaspora Jewish businessman" vis-à-vis whether he can be altruistic enough, or just desperate enough, to realize the greater picture and appreciate the sincere relationship he has with this great scion, and perhaps to be ready to give up the short-lived glory he can finally reap from these events and even to fall on his own sword for the sake of the greater good.

Once I realised what it was, I sat back with no vested interest in the outcome and just enjoyed it like a foibled fairytale (or a story submitted by a child) portrayed onscreen by an A-list cast.

Without actively recommending it, I'm just telling the public what it is. A fourth-to-sixth grader's story (including that child's perception of reality and wishful thinking) presented by an A-list cast ... in which, if any of it were to happen then this is actually how it would play out. When you accept that this is the case, that you're missing nothing and that this is how Middle East politics actually plays out on the ground (that's right, you're not missing anything, this really is the circus of politics in Israel as it's portrayed in this film), then maybe you can sit back and allow yourself to enjoy it too.
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9/10
Tragic for sure, but with a light touch
Nozz14 March 2017
In drama the word "tragedy" has a meaning that is more specific than just "bad things happening." It refers to the way a powerful figure is brought to a complete downfall by an inherent aspect of the same power within him that raised him up in the first place. Arthur Miller set about in Death of a Salesmen to show that plain folks can, and perhaps often do, have lives just as tragic as those of ancient kings. Joseph Cedar has the same idea in Norman, and my wife called it a "heavy" movie, but I wouldn't entirely agree. The audience is prevented from becoming too emotionally invested in the tragedy because, first and foremost, casting Richard Gere as a hapless Jewish luftmensch (a person whose source of livelihood is deals, not products) creates a sort of insulation between the actor and the part regardless of how well he plays it. So does casting Steve Buscemi as a rabbi. The music, which is excellent, often implies a comical perspective. And there are satirical touches of mild exaggeration, with some of the scenes playing out like comedy skits. In fact, the production seems for the most part to take place on the scale of a TV movie. There aren't many incidental characters or details widening the scope and enhancing the realism of it, and what seems less than important can turn out to be perfectly, maybe even predictably important later (which, in a tragedy, may not be an imperfection).

The film is a joint US-Israeli production, but for nice recent Israeli cityscapes and landscapes you'll have to turn to other good recent Israeli movies (and there are many). In this one, unless I missed something, all we see of Israel is the inside of the Parliament (the real hall, used with permission). Maybe one reason Israeli audiences would find the film "heavy" is that they watch with fear that the plot will reflect badly on our politics. But it doesn't indulge in any particularly mean-spirited portrayals, and Richard Gere himself probably did more damage by coming to Israel for the premiere and patronizing the government with a political dose of California dreaming.
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7/10
Networking and hustling
ferguson-64 May 2017
Greetings again from the darkness. With the subtitle, 'The Moderate Rise and Rapid Fall of a New York Fixer', writer/director Joseph Cedar removes one layer of the mystery that otherwise envelops the lead character Norman Oppenheimer. We find ourselves somewhat sympathetic for the obviously lonely guy, while also accepting this as Cedar's commentary on today's real world obsession with networking. "It's who you know" is the call of the business world, and few stake claim to more contacts that Norman.

Richard Gere stars as Norman, and we immediately notice his usual on screen air of superiority is missing, replaced instead by a fast-talking sense of desperation … in fact, Norman reeks of desperation. Cedar divides the film into four Acts: A Foot in the Door, The Right Horse, The Anonymous Donor, and The Price of Peace. These acts begin with Norman stalking/meeting an Israeli Deputy Minister after a conference, buying him an $1100 pair of Lanvin shoes, and then tracking their relationship over the next few years as Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) ultimately becomes Prime Minister of Israel, and is embroiled in a scandal that directly impacts Norman.

It's a terrific script with exceptional performances from both Mr. Gere and Mr. Ashkenazi (who also starred in director Cedar's excellent Oscar nominated Footnote, 2011). Their awkward initial connection seems grounded in reality – despite the expensive gift. These are two men who dream big, but go about things in quite different ways. Other terrific actors show up throughout, including: Michael Sheen as Norman's lawyer nephew; Steve Buscemi as a Rabbi; Dan Stevens, Harris Yulin and Josh Charles as businessmen; Isaach De Bankole as the shoe salesman; Hank Azaria as Norman's mirror-image from the streets; and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a disconcertingly quiet and calm Israeli investigator.

There are many interesting elements in the film – some are small details, while others are quite impactful. Examples of these include the whimsical music from Japanese composer Jun Miyake, Norman's questionable diet, the emphasis on "Unnamed US businessman", the twist on a simple question "What do you need?", the recurring shot of the shoes, and the creative use of split screen montage during multiple phone calls.

Most hustlers don't generate a great deal of success, and Norman is often an annoying, even an unwelcome presence. However, it seems clear he is well-intentioned, and despite a proclivity for fabricating facts, his sincerity makes him a somewhat sympathetic figure … one that by the film's end, has accomplished quite a few favors that should have delivered the recognition and influence he so craved. Norman's "art of the deal" may not be textbook, but it makes for entertaining viewing.
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8/10
Worthwhile and Entertaining
admcdonough26 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is a really good film. It explores the inner motivations of people and everyone is not necessarily what they seem in this movie just as in real life. All of the characters in the film have their good points and bad points just as people do in real life. Your first reaction on meeting Norman himself is to dislike him as being just a struggling con artist. But very quickly you also start to develop empathy for him and actually even start rooting for him. I won't spoil the movie by giving away the ending except to say that for the first hour and a half you really don't know where everything is leading, but in the last half hour you will probably anticipate where it is going and what is going to happen next and ultimately the ending. All of the performances are top rate, but a special shout out to Richard Gere as Norman. He has been underrated for years since I think many people just think anyone that good looking can't be a good actor. And even now in his 60's he's still a really good looking man. But this performance was great with him hitting every note yet employing subtlety as he does it. Oscars nominations and wins are generally a result of promotion and politics nowadays, so you never know how or why someone gets nominated, but this was an Oscar nomination worthy performance by Gere.
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7/10
Rise and Fall of a "macher"
graupepillard8 May 2017
Watching the esteemed Israeli director Joseph Cedar's new film NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER, I kept thinking that the wardrobe expenses for the main character was quite a bargain, as Richard Gere wears the same camel-hair coat and grey cap throughout the movie with a very occasional change into a suit. The character Norman is the Bernie Madoff of the political and social set - building exotic schemes and dreams upon the sludge of greed and desire, but as his clothing indicates in a spare and pared down manner.

Norman is a cipher - we have no idea where he lives; his personal life is a mystery; whether he gets any financial remuneration out of his zany deals; or whether he gets satisfaction in just being accepted by men-in-power that are as secretive and cagey as he is. This is the tragic tale of a man who has come to believe in his own lies, a man passionate about making connections - hooking up people with one another - a "shadchan", the Yiddish word for matchmaker, but for the marriage of political and business elites. This sycophantic "nebbish" is both sympathetic and pathetic. Norman need not fear "invisibility," since he is vociferously insensitive to his own behavior, annoyingly pestering and nudging his "marks," like a mosquito that keeps on biting and never feels being squatted away - a gambler, rolling the dice for a jackpot without any money to cover his bets.

Richard Gere, in a defining career move, sheds the glamor of previous roles, to play Norman, a person intensely driven to pushing and cajoling his way into the lives of the power brokers; surprisingly when he does gain some notoriety, his approach to life remains unchanged. Norman continues to wear the identical outfit; his office still consists of wandering the streets of Manhattan making promises on the phone; a loner who remains an enigma who cannot control his need to "help" despite being helpless.

This film is a character study of an older man who unintentionally has an enormous impact on people in his immediate circle, and internationally - particularly Israel's peace talks in the Middle East. The bare bones of the plot focuses on an early decisive encounter between Norman and an Israeli Deputy Minister, who 3 years later becomes the Prime Minister of Israel. The impact of their initial meeting reverberates throughout the film.

There is an innocence and an affability to the soft-spoken Norman; oftentimes he looks confused and fails to understand that his schemes can lead to dire consequences. Small moments in the film are incredibly moving; Norman sneaking into a synagogue's back room to dip into a jar of Vita herring which he deftly balances on crackers, underscoring the bleakness and isolation of his life in the very space where he goes to for sanctuary and comfort. Steve Buscemi is excellent portraying the Rabbi of this large Congregation, surprising even himself by reaching out in desperation to Norman, the "fixer" to help save the Synagogue's building from being wrested away due to lack of funds.

NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER, is a fascinating study of someone with a bad case of logorrhea, who clearly has no influence or prestige, with a reputation built on quicksand - who shockingly does affect events and temporarily succeeds. Sound familiar without the empathy?
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9/10
The saddest movie I've ever seen in my entire life
wnieke6 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
... or on par with "The Green Prince" - spoiler warning: In both movies the main character gets used by all, then cast aside... Truly devastating to watch...
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