Motherless Brooklyn Review


Director: Edward Norton
Starring: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe

What’s it like being involved in a movie which you wrote, directed, produced and starred in. One of the very few people who can answer that question is Edward Norton, who did exactly all those things with his latest picture, Motherless Brooklyn.

Edward Norton is the director, star and writer of the film Motherless Brooklyn, which is set in 1950s New York. Norton plays Lionel Essrog who works for a detective agency in the city.

Lionel suffers from Tourette syndrome which means he’s prone in involuntary vocal outbursts. However, he has an incredible photographic memory, which makes him a vital part of Frank Minna’s (played by Bruce Willis) team.

However, things take a nasty turn when Frank is murdered and this spurs Lionel on to figure out who his killer really is. Lionel ends up becoming entangled in a web of city-wide corruption.

First and foremost, Motherless Brooklyn is a true gem of a movie. It perfectly encaptures the Noir vibe I believe Norton was going for, and it’s one of those movies where the city is just as much a character as anyone else in the film.

Edward Norton shines in Motherless Brooklyn

Edward Norton directing Motherless Brooklyn

Edward Norton directing Motherless Brooklyn (Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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The film is bolstered by a spellbinding performance from Norton and you can’t help but fall in love with his character, Lionel. He’s plagued by his disorder, but he doesn’t let it control him or stop him from getting to the bottom of this perplexing and dark mystery.

He actually uses the gifts he’s been given to track down clues, and if anything, Lionel ends up becoming a better detective than his boss, Frank, ever was.

Backing up Norton you have the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Laura Rose in the movie, and she’s wonderful as ever. If you’ve seen Belle, then you’ll know how much of a terrific actress she is.

Laura Rose is more than just a love interest in the film, and most of that is down to Mbatha-Raw’s incredible performance.

Alec Baldwin also delivers a fine performance as Moses Randolph, the councillor in charge of the city’s development. Baldwin certainly shows that he still has what it takes to shine in dramatic movies.

Motherless Brooklyn has an incredible cast


Gugu Mbathra-Raw is brilliant in Motherless Brooklyn (Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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I’ve been a bit worried that he was getting typecast as the guy who does an awfully good Donald Trump impression.

Even Bruce Willis gives a performance which makes it seem like he actually cared about this film, which he may very well have done.

Most of this film was funded thanks to help from Edward Norton’s friends, and many of them did the movie for free in an effort to help Norton get it made.

It’s clear to see that this is a real passion project for the actor, who wanted to make the movie ever since he read Jonathan Lethem’s book of the same name on the set of Fight Club, which was quite a long time ago.

Motherless Brooklyn isn’t the kind of film movie studios make any more. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Noir thriller, but it certainly wasn’t in the last ten years, and that’s such a shame because it’s such a wonderful genre of movie.

However, it’s more than just me saying “they don’t make this kind of movie any more”. You could very easily make a Noir film and it be alright. However, Norton’s movie is incredibly captivating and full of wonderful performances and beautiful shots.

That said, they really don’t make this kind of movie any more and I’m so happy Norton got the chance to make Motherless Brooklyn.

Motherless Brooklyn is in UK cinemas right now.

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