Richard Gere stars as Norman Oppenheimer in Joseph Cedar’s low-key dramedy, subtitled “The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.” We meet Norman engaged in setting up a deal, and it’s clear that tap-dancing through half-promises is his modus operandi. If only person A will do Thing B, then Person C can execute Thing D, and so on. This is the time-honored stuff of street corners, bars and markets, but Norman is operating in some rarefied midtown-Manhattan air. He takes a gamble on a visiting Israeli government official (Lior Ashkenazi), and this one lucky break sets in motion the titular rise and fall.
Norman is fed by his own often-deluded vision of his influence, and even seems to thrive on how precarious it all is: “I’m a good swimmer,” he says, “as long as my head is above water.” But there is a pervasive melancholy that runs through this work; we see enough of reality to worry for Norman, and indeed, as expected, the waters around him grow more treacherous. This is a fine little film, with a good performance from Gere (doing a downmarket version of his more typical slick-businessman roles) and a supporting cast that includes Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi and Charlotte Gainsbourg.