It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So this is about a man named Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere). He is known as a fixer, and he makes a living by serving as the missing link to getting people what they want. He lands a big fish when he introduces himself to a possible future prime minister. Cut to three years later, and it appears that the meeting could either be his making or his undoing. Now this caught my attention due to a positive review I heard; while it wasn’t glowing, it still said all the right things that indicated that this had the potential to be my type of movie. I didn’t fall in love with this like I hoped, but this still has scenes that work.
Enter Richard Gere, the person you’re always trying to actively avoid.
Where Norman does succeed (as a film, not as a character) is that it is always interesting to see him do his job. He’s essentially a bullshit artist and a middle man, and he has created a job that does not need to exist. He’s a smooth operator, and he is always telling his client exactly what they want to hear, but he is also being pushy with his ulterior motives just beneath the surface. That motivation is him trying to get his foot in the door with any and everyone, and it is so much so that conversations in this typically take a turn for the uncomfortable, similar to being stuck in a sales pitch. While watching him work is intriguing and there are interesting moments in this, I do feel like this is slower than it needs to be, and I have to admit this did make me sleepy at a number of different points throughout.
It’s a lot of talking, and not in the gripping Tarantino way.
A lot of tension in this is undercut by the original title that still appears on the opening credits. “The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” tells you right off the bat that this is a story that is not going to end well, and this made it so that I was simply waiting for that shoe to drop the entire time. Richard Gere does commit to this role, and the supporting cast is filled with quality character actors that are always pleasant to see, like Steve Buscemi, Michael Sheen and Hank Azaria. Norman is not bad, I just don’t know who I would recommend it to.
Norman (2016) ***
– Critic for Hire