Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

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Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
Norman The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Cedar
Written byJoseph Cedar
Produced byMiranda Bailey
Lawrence Inglee
David Mandil
Oren Moverman
Eyal Rimmon
Gideon Tadmor
StarringRichard Gere
Lior Ashkenazi
Hank Azaria
Steve Buscemi
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Michael Sheen
Dan Stevens
CinematographyYaron Scharf
Edited byBrian A. Kates
Music byJun Miyake
Production
companies
Tadmor
Cold Iron Pictures
The Rabinovich Foundation
The Jerusalem Film Fund
Keshet International
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • 3 September 2016 (2016-09-03) (Telluride)[1]
  • 8 March 2017 (2017-03-08) (Israel)[2]
  • 14 April 2017 (2017-04-14) (United States)[3]
Running time
117 minutes [4]
CountryUnited States / Israel
LanguageEnglish / Hebrew
Box office$5.2 million[5]

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (Hebrew: נורמן: עלייתו המתונה ונפילתו התלולה של מאכער אמריקאי‎) (previously titled Oppenheimer Strategies) is a 2016 American-Israeli political drama film directed and written by Joseph Cedar. The film stars Richard Gere and Lior Ashkenazi. Filming began on February 8, 2015 in New York City. The film played at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival[6] and the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.[7][8]

Plot[edit]

Norman Oppenheimer is a small-time "fixer" in New York City who makes money by doing favors for and arranging access to politicos and other power brokers. He befriends Micha Eshel, an Israeli politician, buying him an expensive pair of shoes and using him to wrangle an invitation to the home of Arthur Taub, an important businessman. Taub quickly recognizes Norman as an opportunist and tells him to leave. On a train, Norman meets Alex Green, an Israeli criminal investigator, telling her all about his business and his relationship to Eshel, even diagramming his connections on a piece of paper. She pays close attention and keeps the paper.

Three years later, Eshel becomes Prime Minister of Israel and visits the United States to meet with the President, speak to the United Nations, and sign a peace treaty with Israel's neighbors. He greets Norman effusively at a large reception covered by the media and introduces him to a panoply of powerful people. Norman's life changes rapidly as he is approached by those who want to take advantage of his influence.

Norman is asked by his synagogue and its leader, Rabbi Blumenthal, to help them raise millions of dollars to save their building, so Norman arranges a quid pro quo with a powerful businessman, Jo Wilf, who wants to make a deal with Israel. Norman uses his nephew Philip, a lawyer who has an inside connection at Harvard University, to get Eshel's son accepted to the school—in exchange for persuading Blumenthal to marry Philip and his fiancée, a Korean woman who is not a Jew. However, Eshel and his wife have second thoughts about accepting favors from Norman as Eshel is caught up in an Israeli bribery scandal being investigated by Green.

Norman arranges to meet with Green at the Israeli consulate, but Phillip implores him not to do so as he believes Eshel's political career is doomed and as he suspects Norman is also under investigation. Norman calls Eshel's aides and offers to give them any information he can get from Green, but they forbid the meeting, telling Norman that it is a severe crime, that he must stop using Eshel's name, and that Eshel is not Norman's friend. But they call him back, assuming he won't be able to keep his mouth shut, and tell him that whoever is supposed to have compromised Eshel is a criminal who is making up stories and who doesn't even know the Prime Minister. Norman immediately conveys these claims to a man, Srul Katz, who is following him and who turns out to be another would-be fixer.

At the consulate, Green tells Norman that he is the bribery suspect, but that if he will testify against Eshel, Norman will not face prosecution. He leaves and goes to the synagogue, where the furious rabbi, having realized that Norman made false promises, throws him into a pile of garbage. As Norman sits amid the garbage, Eshel calls him and tells him he is sorry he will have to denounce him in order to maintain his position and sign the peace treaty. Norman vows never to betray him.

Norman arranges a meeting with Jo Wilf. What he reveals allows Wilf to make billions on an Israel-Turkey natural gas pipeline. All of the fixes Norman has set in motion are successful: Philip gets married, Eshel's son gets into Harvard, the synagogue gets the money it needs, the peace treaty is signed, and Eshel is not impeached. Norman is never deposed in the bribery investigation as he buys a bag of peanuts, to which he has a deadly allergy, throws away his EpiPen, and prepares to eat the nuts.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

On November 14, 2014, Richard Gere was set to star in the political thriller Oppenheimer Strategies, written by Joseph Cedar who would also direct the film.[9] On January 14, 2015, Charlotte Gainsbourg was added to the cast to play the female lead.[11] On February 6, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi and Josh Charles were added to the cast to star along with Dan Stevens, Isaach de Bankolé and Lior Ashkenazi.[10]

Filming was originally set to begin on January 12, 2015 in New York City, but it began on February 8, 2015.[12] On February 12, filming was taken place around 93rd Street and Amsterdam Ave in Manhattan.[13]

Release[edit]

The film played at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2016,[14] and then had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Prior to, Sony Pictures Classics acquired distribution rights in North America, Benelux, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Asia (excluding Korea) to the film and it was then the previous title changed from Oppenheimer Strategies to Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.[15]

The US theatrical release was on April 14, 2017.

Reception[edit]

At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 75 based on six reviews.[16] Richard Gere was praised by both Variety and The Guardian for his "strong performance" portraying a "Court Jew" archetype.[17][18] Indeed, Cedar's fictional character 'Norman Oppenheimer' was inspired in part by the real life court Jew Joseph Süß Oppenheimer, whose life in turn inspired the 1934 British film Jew Süss, as well as the 1940 Nazi propaganda film Jud Süß.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "43rd Telluride Film Festival Program" (PDF). 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  2. ^ Hannah Brown (March 5, 2017). "Richard Gere to Visit Israel for Film Premiere". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  3. ^ "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer". 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  4. ^ "NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  5. ^ "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Peter Debruge (4 September 2016). "Telluride Film Review: 'Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer'". Variety. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  7. ^ "NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER [programme note]". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  8. ^ "TIFF 2016 Adds Terrence Malick's 'Voyage of Time', Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake', and More". Collider. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (November 14, 2014). "Richard Gere To Star In 'Oppenheimer Strategies'". deadline.com. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d e McNary, Dave (February 6, 2015). "Berlin: 'Oppenheimer Strategies' Draws Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi". variety.com. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Sneider, Jeff (January 14, 2015). "'Nymphomaniac's' Charlotte Gainsbourg Joining Richard Gere in Thriller 'Oppenheimer Strategies' (Exclusive)". thewrap.com. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  12. ^ "On the Set for 2/9/15: Will Ferrell Wraps 'Daddy's Home', Kate Beckinsale Starts Shooting 'Love & Friendship' & More". ssninsider.com. February 9, 2015. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  13. ^ "Richard Gere has started filming 'Oppenheimer Strategies' in NYC". onlocationvacations.com. February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  14. ^ "43rd Telluride Film Festival Announces Its 2016 Program Lineup" (PDF) (Press release). Telluride Film Festival. 1 September 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 September 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  15. ^ Dave McNary (8 August 2016). "Sony Classics Buys Richard Gere's Fixer Movie 'Norman'". Variety. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  17. ^ Debruge, Peter (September 4, 2016). "'Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer' Review". Variety.
  18. ^ Lee, Benjamin (September 5, 2016). "Norman: the Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer review – Richard Gere ups his game in iffy film". The Guardian.
  19. ^ Alexander, Neta (March 3, 2017). "Joseph Cedar Talks 'Norman,' His Religious Upbringing and His Empathy for Corrupt Politicians". Haaretz.

External links[edit]