Subtitled The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, this is a film of poignant, at times cringing, humour and acute observations of how deals are done – ie, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know if you want to get ahead. Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is a wannabe mover and shaker, forever trying to get his foot in the door of the Big Apple’s elite.
He has become over-familiar with knock-backs but is persistent to the point of annoying to death his potential contacts. Meeting Misha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) outside Lanvin, an up-market shop selling men’s suits that cost more than the average family car, will change Norman’s life.
It is one of many beautifully shot scenes, as the pair, seen from behind the display window, communicate in silence. Norman buys Misha a pair of shoes and an intimate friendship is formed.
Three years later, Misha has become Israel’s prime minister and Norman is the toast of the town for the access he has to him. But he is out of his depth. Norman unwittingly finds himself embroiled in an international scandal that threatens world peace, but even though his dilemma is self-inflicted, you can’t help but feel for the guy.
Self-delusion has led him to wanting too much something that is not nearly as important as the true bond that he has made with Misha. Striving so hard to be in the first XI, Norman is unable to see his own gaucheness, even when he is politely asked to leave a Manhattan dinner party because he has not been invited – it is an excruciatingly embarrassing moment, but he takes it on the chin, like he always does. Gere, who we don’t see much of these days, is outstanding as the man who in the end couldn’t see the hole that his ambition was digging for him, and Askenazi is superb as the politician who is a little too much in touch with his own human foibles. A fantastic movie.