It's being hailed as a career comeback - the performance of a lifetime.
But Richard Gere was reluctant at first to take on the role of Norman - a Jewish fixer in New York, who wheels and deals by introducing powerful people to make advantageous connections.
Gere, who is famously Buddhist, is the first to admit he wasn't an obvious choice to play the lead role in Joseph Cedar's film - the first English-language feature by the acclaimed Israeli director.
"Joseph gave me this and I read it and said 'This is wonderful but why me?' There are probably a dozen New York Jewish actors who could have done an amazing thing with this part'. And he said 'Yeah, that's probably true but I don't want them. I want what you're going to bring to this'."
What Gere brought to it is a beautifully nuanced performance, full of both humour and humility. Despite numerous setbacks, Norman remains eternally hopeful and positive. His intentions are pure.
"[That] is something that I realised as I played him. I expected there was going to be a stronger emotional internal reaction to his defeats and humiliations. There weren't any. He would get frustrated at times but there's no Iago in him, there's no darkness."
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is a unique tale of power and corruption. Norman is a man who sees opportunities and attempts to connect people to their mutual advantage. He's a trader who deals in favours as currency.
"When he comes up with these schemes, he assumes they will happen and that it will be good for everyone," Gere explains. "He wants everyone to get what they want and what they deserve, to have their dreams fulfilled. He wants to belong."
But Norman's success rate isn't great. Until he meets and befriends an Israeli politician, Micha Eshel. Three years later, Eshel becomes the Prime Minister of Israel - and Norman is suddenly a very powerful player in New York's Jewish community. Until his tragic fall, as referenced in the film's title.
Although, Gere argues, it's not the tragic end some may expect.
"It's not a downfall. He's achieved his deepest desire, which is to be essential. He is completely essential to those people achieving their desires. His sacrifice is also the culmination of his greatest desire. To be needed, to be essential."
Gere says he's met plenty of Normans in his time - and they can be found all over the world.
"They even exist in New Zealand," he laughs. "We played this film at the festival in Miami and they absolutely got this. I was talking to them afterwards and of course they have Normans. Every culture has Normans.
"There's always one of those guys that wants to be part of things. They're polite but you don't really know where they're coming from. You don't want to invite them to dinner. You don't want to be that close. Everyone kind of knows them but no one really knows them or who they are or what they're trying to do."
Normans may be in plentiful supply but Gere's version is certainly the first committed to screen in such poetic detail.
"Whatever I do, it has to be something I haven't done before, a character I haven't done before," he says, explaining how he chooses roles now. "And hopefully with the very best of the talent around me. I really have to connect with the director or it doesn't work. Joseph and I are particularly close. Oren Moverman, who produced this movie, he and I have done four movies together and trust each other completely."
Following the success of Pretty Woman, Gere became a major box office drawcard in the 90s, commanding more than $17 million per film. But although his paydays contain less these days, he says he still makes the same type of films.
"The movies that I used to make were made in studios, the same type of movies - dramatic, character-oriented movies - but studios don't make them anymore. So we make these same movies independently. We make them cheaper, we make them faster but to me it's the same process of story-telling.
"We shot this movie in about 30 days. In the old days, it probably would have been about a 50-day movie. Maybe more. And we made it cheaper. I didn't get paid very much and that's fine. I'm very fortunate that I've made enough money in a very long movie career that I don't need it that much. And I like working. I like working fast, where there's no down time. This kind of film suits me very well."
Who: Richard Gere
What: Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
When: In cinemas today