Richard Gere stars as Norman, a New York fixer, who is trying to get together a deal that would make him something bigger than he is in his own head. When a chance meeting with an Israeli politician who goes on to become the President of Israel leads him to being what he thinks is the man behind the throne everything starts to go his way, or at least he thinks.
You young lads and lasses out there may not know this but Richard Gere was THE heart throb of the 70’s and 80’s, some would argue the 90’s too, but I hit adulthood then so that’s the 90’s sorted. I will admit that An Officer and Gentlemen are one of those films for me that I could watch time and time again and just love each time. I also do a great impression of the Up Where We Belong song, its offensive to the musicians that worked on the song, but it’s still great. Lately I haven’t followed what Richard has been up to, I know he did something about dancing about 10 years ago with Jennifer Lopez, and then something with a dog, but I don’t know if he’s hit the right age yet to get the good roles. Remember Michael Caine went through a phase of rubbish before getting great roles in his later years, but Norman is going a long way down the line to that destination.
The biggest problem I have with Norman is following the story, you think you get a grasp on the situation and then some strange editing and camera work later you’re more lost Hansel and Gretel. Without Gere’s performance, which resembles Peter Sellers in Being There, the film would be nothing. The role though hits a wall with the different notes that it can deliver and he’s left repeating tricks that he uses at the start, there is no real growth to the character at all.
The story though, when he’s trying to put some obscure business deal together and you don’t know how much of what he’s saying is the truth, and what is going on in the financial minefield that he’s walking through, is so jarring and swings you round the film that it just left me slightly dizzy.
The supporting cast is filled with people we all know, Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens, Steve Buscemi, Lior Ashkenazi, Hank Azaria, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. They all have enough to do that you don’t feel that any of them are just to make up the numbers. It’s really down to Gere though to carry the film. I just wanted someone to explain what is going on to me.
Norman is Gere’s best performance since Chicago, and if we could have had more of a handle on the business that he’s involved in, and what the Israeli Prime Minister actually asked of him other than getting his son into Harvard, then I would be marking this more over the four points rather than a three. I also wanted to know more about Norman, he’s the main character, the title character, and there is no real exploration as to why Norman is the way that he is. It’s hinted at that at one point he was someone you call to get an introduction to someone more important, but a little more delving into his past would have given us a more complete character.
For those that understand international politics and financial wheeling and dealing you may get more out of this than I did. However it’s nice to see Gere doing something outside his comfort zone, a character that he’s never played before, so for that it was highly enjoyable.
Director: Joseph Cedar
Writer: Joseph Cedar
Stars: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen