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Richard Gere hustles persuasively in the surprising 'Norman'

Richard Gere hustles persuasively in the surprising 'Norman'
Lior Ashkenazi, left, and Richard Gere in the film "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer." (Seacia Pavao / Sony Pictures Classics)

Subtle, unsettling, often slyly amusing and always unexpected, "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer" (in limited release) is the kind of film we're simply not used to seeing.

Starring a surprisingly persuasive Richard Gere and the first English-language effort from top Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar, this delicate, novelistic character study is what more American independent films would be like if more had thoughtful adult themes and gravitated toward nuance and complexity.

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The gifted Cedar, a writer-director whose last two works, "Beaufort" and "Footnote," were Oscar-nominated, has turned this story of a hustler forever searching for an exploitable angle into an entirely involving drama about means and ends, illusion and delusion and the price having your dreams come true can extract.

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