'Norman' is one of those random independent movies that I'd never heard of, but decided to give a chance one day on Netflix because nothing else at the moment captured my interest.
To be honest, even though I chose to stream it, I went into 'Norman' somewhat reluctantly; I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the story of a high-school kid who "copes" with his father's terminal cancer by pretending to have cancer himself (!). Nevertheless, I was also mildly curious after reading the plot description (and intrigued that the movie was filmed in my home state -- granted, on the other side of Washington, over in Spokane).
The movie starts out well enough, and has some positive elements throughout. I enjoyed the score by Andrew Bird. Richard Jenkins gives a very good performance as Norman's terminally ill father; I also thought that Adam Goldberg's sympathetic teacher character was fairly interesting, and I wouldn't have minded seeing more of him.
Unfortunately, Dan Byrd's portrayal of the title character didn't really work for me; I found it difficult to empathize with his character during most of the movie (even though I could tell I was "supposed" to). This could have been at least partly due to the script -- or to Norman's irritating use of the video camera (which he's shown using in several scenes for a school assignment). Whatever the reason, I cared little enough for both Byrd's performance and his character that it kind of left a negative impact on my ability to appreciate the rest of the film. (However, Norman does somewhat redeem himself toward the end.)
Although Richard Jenkins's performance is certainly worth watching, I can't quite recommend this one overall. Unless perhaps you're familiar with Spokane, Washington and want to see it in the movies (none of the specific locations looked familiar to me in 'Norman', but people who have spent more time in the area might recognize some sights.) Or unless you're a big Andrew Bird fan and want to hear how he does as a film composer, while watching the actual film. (4/10)