Upon meeting Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi at the premiere of Norman, Joseph Cedar’s smart new movie starring Richard Gere in the title role, I first looked at his feet. His shoes, elegant leather lace ups, looked remarkably like the ones he, as Micha Eshel, accepts from Norman, before he becomes Prime Minister of Israel in the film, when he is a low level government official and Norman, a self-styled entrepreneur and businessman, is courting him in a Lanvin boutique. The shoes are a benign if expensive gift, a way for Norman to get his foot in, so to speak, believing that the connection to Eshel will pay off. An important person must wear important shoes.
Norman is Richard Gere! It still takes a beat to step back from his handsome looks, to see his self-effacing tics as an older, shuffling gentleman, Norman, trashed, as it were. You are prepared if you saw him as homeless in Oren Moverman’s last directed film, Time Out of Mind. Moverman is Norman’s producer, and Gere is in Moverman’s next, The Dinner, to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival next week. From the film, Josh Charles in a new play, The Antipodes, joined Gina Gershon and many others at an after screening party at The Skylark, a rooftop venue with spectacular views. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Hank Azaria and Harris Yulin skipped it. But Gere was on hand to support director Joseph Cedar, as was Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi.
As fictive Prime Minister, Micha Eshel becomes a broker of Middle Eastern peace, that most elusive dream. Joseph Cedar claimed he is not political, and yet his current project is directing a series for HBO with Israeli and Palestinian actors on that very subject.
Lior Ashkenazi did not weigh in on Israeli politics either. But when asked about those shoes, Ashkenazi says they are not the actual ones, but might as well be, as he is friends with Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz, who insisted an important actor must wear important shoes.