I have always been someone who is more comfortable alone than with a large group of people. Now before you start forming pictures in your head I do not have a long beard nor am I surrounded by a bunch of old newspapers. What I mean is I am not that person who can work a room like magic. We all know that person, you go to a party or an event and they are shaking hands and kissing babies and seem to know everyone. I have always admired that trait in someone, well because I don’t have it and sometimes I wish I could be that guy.
Norman (Richard Gere) is one of those guys and is a businessman for a company that you are not really sure what he’s selling. Whatever it is it’s something though no one is buying and Norman is on the outside looking in most of the time. One night he meets a man who he buys a pair of rather expensive shoes for, not knowing who that man would become. Years later that man who is named Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), becomes the Prime Minister of Israel and finally it seems Norman bet on the right horse. Now Norman is getting into doors he never had opened for him and he is wheeling and dealing with people way above his pay grade. On the night of what appears to be Norman’s proudest moment he meets a woman named Alex (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who will change his life forever.
The original title of the film was “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” and we are glad they shortened it. Besides giving it a way in the title, it is a mouthful to say. Now that the title is shorter you only wish they had done the same with the film’s length. “Norman” feels every bit of that nearly two hour run time even with Gere channeling his best Woody Allen. It is written and directed by Joseph Cedar, whose last film “Footnote” had a similar feel but was more entertaining. While “Norman” is not a bad movie at all, it just feels slow which may cause you to divert your attention to something or someone else during those extra slow moments. What “Norman” does have working for it is its cast. Led by Gere, who has been making a habit of doing films like this later in his career and nailing the performances in them. Joining him are Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens, Steve Buscemi, and Hank Azaria all who help with the best thing “Norman” has going for it, its group effort. While that is the best parts of it, it is not the only thing though some of the moments tend to drag, “Norman” is just fine. For me “Norman” falls in the in-between world of good and bad movies and like the movie’s story itself, it’s a small film that rises to good moments only to fall back into average.