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Norman: The moderate rise and tragic fall of a New York fixer

Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca

Normand – Norman Oppenheimer (Richerd Gere) is one of those characters that we all have encountered at one point or another in our lives: the name dropper who claims to have important connections and whose motivation is not very clear. Except that on this occasion Norman, already a character that his fellow members of the Jewish community in New York don’t take very seriously, manages to get some respect after all. It all starts with Norman attending—uninvited—a meeting where he manages to meet Michal Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), a young and talented Israeli deputy minister. After giving his new friend an expensive gift that he would later call his “best investment ever,” Norman would exchange business cards with the Israeli visitor. He tries—unsuccessfully— to impress other members of the community by taking the politician to a dinner to which Norman hasn’t even been invited and then nothing much seems to happen—that until three years later when Eshel becomes prime minister of Israel and visits New York.

Suddenly, Norman is an important member of his community

Eshel is a different kind of politician. Indeed, he can show some loyalty, which he would display when during a meeting with members of New York’s Jewish community, he recognizes his friend from the previous visit to the city. Norman now becomes a valuable and sought member of his community. He is finally seen as a major player not only in New York but even as a friend of Israel’s prime minister. Even his nephew, Philip Cohen (Michael Sheen) who in the past felt somehow embarrassed by Norman wants now to be close to him, and Rabbi Blumenthal (Steve Buscemi) would also ask a big favour of him. But as the political fortune of Eshel as prime minister suddenly changes for the worse, that would also come to drag Norman’s fortunes down.

Michal Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi)becomes prime minister of Israel

This Israeli-U.S. co-production directed by Joseph Cedar is an enjoyable movie with some elements of political intrigue, but above all, it is an incisive look into the human psyche, both that of the fixer and that of some who were around him when it was convenient. The movie has a convincing acting as expected from an experienced Gere and a dynamic narrative that keeps the audience following the story until the very end.

Length: 117 min.

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