A human frailty – the need to matter, to someone, for something – is considered in the film NORMAN, the first English-speaking feature written and directed by Joseph Cedar, opening tonight at ArcLight Pasadena.
NORMAN is a comic and compassionate drama that ends up pulling on your heart strings, in which Richard Gere is Norman Oppenheimer, a lonely man in the margins of New York City power and money, who has nothing real to offer but keeps on trying to be everyone’s friend and dreaming up financial schemes that lead nowhere.
Always looking for someone that’ll pay attention to him, Norman sets his eye on Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), a charismatic Israeli politician alone in New York at a low point in his career. Sensing Eshel’s vulnerability, Norman reaches out with a gift of a very expensive pair of shoes, a gesture that deeply touches Eshel. When Eshel becomes Prime Minister three years later, he remembers.
With his very real connection to the leader of a major nation, and reveling in his newfound feeling of success, Norman attempts to use Eshel’s name to leverage his biggest deal ever: a series of transactions linking the Prime Minister to Norman’s nephew (Michael Sheen), a rabbi (Steve Buscemi), a mogul (Harris Yulin), his assistant (Dan Stevens), and a treasury official from the Ivory Coast. Norman’s complex plans soon go awry, creating the potential for an international catastrophe that he must struggle to prevent.
Norman is one of those characters always available to powerful people, the type that help others get what they want by doing the things the influential are unwilling to do themselves. The kind that, when needed, can be disposed of without much hassle. It may be that, while watching the movie, you’ll be reminded of a few “Normans” you’ve known in real life.
NORMAN was filmed both in New York and in Jerusalem. Although it is mostly in English, there’s some Hebrew in the mix with English subtitles. The film is rated R for language.
ArcLight Pasadena is located at 300 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena 91101. NORMAN will screen through April 26. Click here to purchase tickets.
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