This absorbing character study from Joseph Cedar (Footnote) shines its gaze on New York’s network of fixers, connectors, and middlemen. Richard Gere stars as a seasoned “macher,” Yiddish for a man who knows the right people and gets things done, and in his hands the main character is fascinating.
Norman Oppenheimer (Gere) is an operator, dreaming up financial schemes that rarely come to fruition. Like a gambler or a thief, his position is more vocation than profession, a confidence game requiring luck and social sleight of hand. As he has nothing real to offer, he strives to be everyone’s friend and sets his sights on Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), a charismatic Israeli politician in New York at a low point in his career. Sensing Eshel’s vulnerability, Norman decides to make an impression by buying him some extremely expensive shoes, a gesture that deeply touches the politician. Three years later, Eshel ends up becoming Prime Minister. With his very real connection to the leader of a major nation, Norman is awash in the respect he has always craved and attempts to leverage his biggest deal ever. But his kaleidoscopic plans go awry, creating the potential for an international catastrophe. With a supporting cast including Michael Sheen, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Steve Buscemi, Hank Azaria, and Dan Stevens, Norman is full of charisma. And at its center Gere performs in one of the finest roles of his career. You may not be able to root for him, but you can’t help but feel for him.
(USA, Israel / 2016 / Written and directed by Joseph Cedar)
R / 1 hr 57 mins.