Richard Gere stars as Norman Oppenheimer, the hero of Joseph Cedar's mordantly funny fable "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer." Norman calls himself a businessman, but his real trade is making connections. Fueled by a desperate desire to be a success (or even better, to be seen as one), Norman is quick with a favor, hoping that the resulting goodwill might pay off down the road, at which point he can come to collect. When fate crosses his path with that of a low-level Israeli diplomat named Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), Norman ingratiates himself, showing the man a little generosity just when he needs it most.
The film flashes forward three years: Eshel is now Israel's Prime Minister, and much to Norman's surprise, his kindness hasn't been forgotten. It seems all that wheeling and dealing has finally paid off; all he has to do is not screw it up. Norman's attempts to weasel his way back into Eshel's life eventually spiral into an international scandal, though the how's and why's that lead there are a bit muddled. But it involves Norman's lawyer nephew (Michael Sheen), his rabbi (Steve Buscemi), and a government official (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who takes a curious interest in Norman's business affairs. Through it all, Gere is terrific: pathetic and oddly touching as a man who wants nothing more than to prove his own worth.
Check back on Friday for additional film coverage, including a review of the documentary "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent."