Richard Gere delivers one of his very best performances as the titular Norman, a New York “businessman” who doesn’t really have a business or a job.
He’s a mysterious, earbud-wearing, graying man riding the trains and grabbing crackers for dinner at the local synagogue—with big aspirations. A self-professed “good swimmer” fighting to stay afloat, Norman finds himself in the company of an up-and-coming Israeli politician (an excellent Lior Ashkenazi), and in a moment of generosity/desperateness, Norman buys the man a pair of shoes. That gesture earns him good favor—as the politician becomes the Israeli prime minister. With big friends comes more notoriety, and Norman finds himself involved in political intrigue and rising responsibility within the New York City Jewish community.
Gere, who basically shrinks himself under a sun cap and trench coat here, sparkles in the role, making Norman a memorable, likable and appropriately annoying character.
Supporting performances from Dan Stevens, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Steve Buscemi round out an excellent cast. Director Joseph Cedar presents the story in a surprisingly layered, often-funny fashion, with definite tragedy at its center.
Gere’s work here is some of the year’s best so far.
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is now playing at the Regal Palm Springs Stadium 9 (789 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 844-462-7342) and the Century Theatres at The River (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-836-1940).