by Diederik van Hoogstraten, May 5, 2017 American Spectator
The renaissance of Richard Gere continues with his brilliant role as a neurotic Jewish New Yorker in Norman.
Richard Gere is like a good cheese. As he gets older, he keeps getting better. With every new role, his work becomes more interesting, just like the taste of a high-end Gruyere or Gouda allowed to age in peace.
Gere, now silver-haired and bespectacled, stars in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer and The Dinner. We all enjoyed him in Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and even in Shall We Dance with Jennifer Lopez. But the word “interesting” didn’t necessarily come to mind as he flirted his way through a slew of romantic comedies. So it is a revelation to see him shine, at age 67, in roles that stayed with me long after I watched those two independent films.
This run has been going on for five years. Gere was really good in Arbitrage (2012) and Time Out of Mind (2014). His latest performances are so compelling, I suggest forgetting his activism, politics, and religion. I mean, a man who manages to upset the Chinese, the Israelis, and the American left is probably doing something interesting. But for now, just watch him act.
Norman is a neurotic, unlikable “fixer” in New York. Picture an even more intense, much better looking version of Woody Allen. We learn little about his character’s back story. It’s not clear exactly what he does as he walks the streets of Manhattan, talking on the phone, making unwanted introductions, and bullying members of the financial and political elites into including him.
Like so many New Yorkers, Norman is lonely. Surrounded by crowds and voices, he appears stuck in isolation. But when he manages to lure a visiting Israeli government minister into a high-end store to buy the Israeli a pair of shoes worth more than $1,000, his luck improves as the plot expands. While it is not always clear where Norman’s everyday reality ends and his dreams of grandeur begin, he enjoys that moment in the spotlight.
The story moves to Israel and Washington, before returning to New York. Remarkably, all these places and their local characters come across as genuine and real. Joseph Cedar wrote and directed a perfectly paced, deeply felt screenplay. Rarely has a small, talky movie sucked me in with such force. READ it HERE