7:30 PM, 16th August, 2017
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE EMBASSY OF ISRAEL
Initially, Richard Gere needs all of his ample charisma to make us like the pushy title character of Norman, a fellow who’s constantly forging deals – or trying to – schmoozing to the absolute limit with everyone he meets, using every contact he has to advance his esoteric business schemes. And what is Norman himself getting out of it all? We gradually realise he’s not in it for the money. He just wants to be... important? popular? useful? respected? It’s hard to tell.
One day, Norman buys a pair of shoes for Micha (Ashkenazi) – a down-and-nearly-out foreign politician visiting New York – scarcely blanching at the thousand-dollar price tag. Years later Micha becomes Prime Minister of Israel, and when he visits New York a second time, he publicly embraces Norman. It’s the best day of Norman’s life. It’s also the beginning of the end for him.
I recognised the tone of this movie from another Israeli production, Footnote, without realising it had the same writer and director. Both films have the same assurance of someone completely in control of telling a story; the same fascination with tiny, perhaps irresolvable moral dilemmas; and the same ability to make us feel deeply for the people who trip over them.