First Hit: Extremely well-acted film about “The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer”.
Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is a fixer and befriends people, anybody, to help them. By finding out what it is they want or need he gets close to them and creates a way to connect himself to people and them to him. Looking at their wants, he's like a problem and puzzle solver by putting people's needs, abilities, and wants together in a way that issues get resolved. Doing so, he also hopes to make something on the side from the deal.
The issue is, that despite his unfathomable drive to do this, he fabricates the truth into a stories that makes him look more connected and important than he is. People see through this, but because he's so nice and humble, no one completely pushes him away.
We never see him sleep and suspect he sleeps in the park or in a synagogue that he likes and supports. During one of his connecting ventures at a conference he spies and follows a minor Deputy Minister of Israel named Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) out of the conference and into a high-end clothing store.
Micha had admired a pair of shoes in the window and that’s when Norman introduces himself. They go into because Norman insists that Micha at least try on the shoes he's admiring through the window. While in conversation with Norman, the store proprietor starts measuring Micha for a suit. When Micha sees that the price for the suit will be over $6,000, he panics, takes the suit off and wants to leave. Norman convinces him to put on the shoes back on and then buys the shoes for Micha. Little did Norman know that the shoes were over $1,200. The look on Norman’s face is priceless.
Still trying to create a connection with Micha, Norman finally gets him to take his business card and return gets Micha’s with his private number on the back.
For Norman this means they are close good friends and he wants to leverage this relationship even though Micha or his staff rarely answers his calls. Three years later Micha becomes Prime Minister of Israel and it so happens, when Micha visits New York, Norman is at a gathering to honor Prime Minister Eshel. When Micha spies Norman in the greeting line, he calls out and hugs him and introduces Norman as his close friend to many of the people there to greet Micha. This moment is complete glory for Norman and he’s hoping he can leverage this into something good. He states at one point, this was the best investment he's ever made.
During the film we also see him connect with others including Philip Cohen (Michael Sheen) who needs to be married in a Synagogue but his fiancé is Korean; Rabbi Blumenthal (Steve Buscemi) who needs to find 14 million dollars save the synagogue from being destroyed, Jo Wilf (Harris Yulin) who wants to make money, and Alex Green (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who wants to catch the “New York Businessman” who illegally gives a gift to the Prime Minister. Lastly there is the Prime Minister that needs a special favor from Norman.
Watching how these parts intertangle with each other and pulling them all together is Norman’s self-described job description.
The scenes of New York City, the community of Jews and their discussions are amazingly strong.
The film also uses titles of acts to break up the film into scenes/acts and, although at times I’m not a big fan of this, here it works well.
Gere is phenomenal. This is some of the best acting I’ve ever seen from him. Sheen is great as the guy who doesn’t want to be bothered by Norman unless he’s getting something from the interaction. Buscemi is very strong as the Rabbi who is desperate to keep his synagogue open. Yulin is perfect as the greed based wealthy man who is only interested speaking to Norman if there is a large solid financial deal to be made. Gainsbourg is fantastic as the investigator who is initially put-off by Norman but then finds a way to use him for her own benefit. Joseph Cedar wrote and directed this very engaging, interesting film.
Overall: I fully enjoyed following Norman who was the moderate New York fixer.