Review / ‘Norman’ (M) ***and a half

Share Canberra's trusted news:

ANAPHYLAXIS, the most severe form of allergic reaction, is potentially life threatening and must be treated as a medical emergency. Epinephrine can reverse the symptoms within minutes.

That’s all today from Dr Mac. But anaphylaxis neatly bookends writer/director Joseph Cedar’s delightful New York/Israeli co-production, telling about the life and times of Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere). Don’t offer Norman a nut. It could kill him unless he immediately shoots up on his epinephrine pen. But before that happens, we’d like to learn more about this charming, insistent arranger of meetings between important people, whose office is a leather shoulder bag and cellphone buds almost never out of his ears, who walks rather than takes a bus or cab, dines on pickled herring on a cracker and for most of the film wears a handsome greatcoat over a well-cut suit and a cloth cap.

In the first of the screenplay’s four acts, Norman gatecrashes a conference, hijacks visiting Israeli deputy infrastructure minister Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) and buys him a $1100+ pair of Lanvin shoes, thereby providing the film with a leitmotif and the basis for an ongoing friendship.

Three years later, Micha is President of Israel and Norman has his cellphone number. An Israeli natural gas project is in the offing. Norman, still walking everywhere and wearing that signature overcoat, is trying to raise funds to rebuild the synagogue led by Rabbi Blumenthal (Steve Buscemi). Field operative Alex (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is on Norman’s case. There is talk of conspiracy and corruption. Micha’s political future is at risk.

“Norman” is New York-born Joseph Cedar’s first English-language film. It has much going for it. Its political undertones are never far from the surface. Its growing tensions unfold deftly. The performances are top quality. Its whimsical observations are fun.

 At Palace Electric and Capitol 6

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleReview / ‘The Sense of an Ending’ (M) *** and a half
Next articleArts / ‘River of Art’ festival continues
Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

Leave a Reply