Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
From a Starbucks coffee cup to a persistent presence on Caller ID, Norman Oppenheimer’s name is plastered across New York City. Norman is a determined macher, clinging to the rungs of the social ladder he most desperately wants to climb but can’t seem to get a footing on. The names of Manhattan’s elite are no mystery to him, each one a “very close friend”, yet they know nothing about him other than his name and reputation. As a fixer, Norman takes it upon himself to make money from these social giants by promising them deals that they can’t, but often do, refuse.
Director Joseph Cedar is clearly a master at creating realistic, tangible characters. Richard Gere portrays Norman’s quirky, man-about-town characteristics in a way that seems naturalistic, yet with the right amount of farce to be uniquely entertaining. Likewise, the archetypal Israeli politician Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) is devastatingly slick, loaded with political catchphrases to boot. The development of the two leads does well in focusing and continuing the plot, yet this is done in such a way that is different from the film’s marketed intention.
The muddy plotline does not generate enough drama for the movie to be considered an impressive political thriller, yet the dynamic tension between Norman and Micha makes for a great character study of both men. Norman’s tragicomic downfall constituted through fervent loyalty to his idolised counterpart, generates a narrative less about the shadowy, darkened world of politics but more about the corruption of humanity and how far people will go to get what they want.
The editing of Norman is also cinematically impressive, not only visually stimulating but also progressive in terms of accentuating its protagonist’s disillusioned mental state. The cinematography embellishes a dreamlike quality, which plays on Norman’s detachment from the real and how far his mind has ventured into the imaginary. We see the world through his eyes and, because of this, experience first-hand his dwindling demise.
Norman works well as an independent drama, but falls short of its desired expectations as a thriller. It is a personal triumph for the likes of Richard Gere who is tremendous in his role, yet for a general audience the tone falls a little flat.
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is released nationwide on 9th June 2017.
Watch the trailer for Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer here: