Motherless Brooklyn Review — Edward Norton’s passion project incites my passion as well.
Ya see, kid, if you’re a real sucker for a moody noir picture, this one will smack you right in the kisser.
Writer, director and star Edward Norton sets Motherless Brooklyn in the 1950’s, when the burrows of New York were in a state of flux. Bridges were being built, parks developed, highways to and from constructed, and neighborhoods torn were torn down to make room for it all. With those kinds of changes comes corruption, and often, racism.
That’s the setting for a murder investigation by an unlikely hero—lonely, Turrette syndrome afflicted private detective Lionel Essrog (Norton), also known as Motherless Brooklyn, because he’s an orphan, and lives… guess where?
He’s working with and against a remarkable cast of characters, including his not-long-for this world boss (Bruce Willis), a mouthy co-worker (Bobby Canavale), a strident activist (Cherry Jones) a powerful and corrupt city planner and developer (Alec Baldwin), a beleaguered architect (Willem Dafoe) and a woman who somehow seems to be at the center of it all (the radiant Gugu Mbatha Raw).
While Baldwin does fine job of playing a power-crazed, egotistical tyrant, it’s difficult to get used to him as someone other than the one he portrays on SNL. Norton’s performance is the real standout. Expect to hear a lot more about it as Oscar season moves into full swing.
And if I had my way, many other elements of the film would get the same recognition. Daniel Pemberton’s bluesy, jazzy score is sublime, and Dick Pope’s lush cinematography is oh-so elegant.
Motherless Brooklyn is definitely one of my favorite films of the year so far. Although it clocks in at over two hours, I found every second riveting. Blink and you miss something wonderful.
2 hours 24 minutes
If this Motherless Brooklyn review inspires you to run out and see it, get times and tickets at Fandango.com.