If anything, Norman helps put into perspective the amount of power that can befall an individual at any given moment in time, stressing that we must always be alert of who’s really in control and not let our communities or nations be governed by some shadowy street-friend. In this case that’s Norman, a man who seems to know everyone, will always offer a helping hand and is always looking to connect you with someone he believes could benefit from your services. That may be the appearance he displays, but in reality, all the Norman’s of the world are nothing but venomous spiders looking to expand their webbing and digging their fangs into the victims they’ve caught in them, sucking as many favors as they can out of them.
As the title suggests, director Joseph Cedar constructs a tale that sees Norman capture his biggest opportunity towards success yet and then destroy it as tragedy befalls him. Joseph Cedar arguments there’s a certain habitat for the New York fixer and it’s once he’s driven out of his comfort zone that he’ll most likely crash and burn. There’s no room in international politics for a man who writes his business plans on a collection of napkins he’s stolen from a select variety of restaurants. Hence, when Norman’s friendly investment in Micha Eshel (Ashkenazi) lands him a direct private phone-line to the prime minister of Israel he’s in over his head.
Despite his incessant name-dropping and claims to have powerful friends and connections, Norman is nothing more than a nobody with a surge of luck. His lips release a cavalcade of lies with each sentence he spits out, his speech pattern reflects that of a person constantly trying to cover up a lie and his urgent manner of walking and talking paints his frantic state of being. The composed and elegant individual you once knew as Richard Gere transforms into a pestering wannabe business giant and its incredible. His look is artificially elegant and so is his psyche, he’s ambitious to be, but has no idea what it is he wants to be. Whether its from observational experience or pure acting genius, Gere turns in a stellar performance, creating a new archetype for the modern age.
Considering Norman is as clear-cut as a character-study as you can get, Cedar direction also seems to mirror the agitated lifestyle Norman endures. From the camera techniques to the editing, Cedar makes the film an embodiment of Norman’s state of mind, its shifty and unhinged to the tenth degree, playing like a tightrope-walk constantly on the verge of going awfully awry.
Albeit being a straightforward character-study, Norman also works like a modern fable with a moral at the end. It warns us to be weary of the creeping Norman’s that roam the streets and exalt the power of saying “No” to extreme persuasion as good as it may sound. Joseph Cedar shifts momentary wonders back to reality, reveling the naïvely sinister motives behind unforeseen generosity. It’s a classic story of rise and fall that paints an exaggerated picture that clearly hits home. Norman is a franticly paced character-study about an anxious soul fighting for purpose devoid of meaning and in doing so delivers on a delightfully cruel motion-picture.