Thursday, May 25, 2017

[Review] Norman

Richard Gere gives a great central performance in the otherwise convoluted Norman.

Gere, of course, plays the title character. Norman is a low-level wheeler and dealer in New York City. He's more of a cold-shot than a hot-shot. The guy who "knows a guy" but no one really knows him. He'd hand you his business card twice during one meeting. But when Norman befriends the future Prime Minister of Israel (played by Lior Ashkenazi), he gets in over his head. And well, the film is exactly what its subtitle entails: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.

Disappointingly, like Norman, the film never really finds its own identity, as it dabbles in many directions and isn't very successful in any of them. It wants to be a drama, but despite creating some high-stakes conflicts and complications, it never really feels that urgent or emotionally engaging. It wants to be a comedy, but it's just not that funny, save for a couple of psshhh moments, at best. And it wants to be a character study, but it never really dives past the one-note layer of Norman. It's also extremely dialogue heavy (and not in a snappy way), comprised of countless phone calls and meetings that just aren't that interesting, making this film frankly difficult to invest in.

On the bright side, Richard Gere is the best he's been in years, disappearing into this role with finely-tuned skill. Lior Ashkenazi is pitch-perfect and should probably be in the underrated actors discussion. The always welcomed Steve Buscemi adds a bit of levity, playing an F-bomb dropping Rabbi. Charlotte Gainsbourg has a brief, but effective appearance. And Hank Azaria even shows up in a small role.

But unfortunately, the solid cast doesn't really bail out Norman in the end.

( 6/10 )

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