Motherless Brooklyn Review
Dan Skip Allen
Edward Norton isn’t usually known as a director or writer but the source material this film is based on has inspired him to do both. Sure, he directed a film once before. The film Keeping the Faith that came out in 2000 was his directorial debut. Motherless Brooklyn though is the first time he has written anything. He co-wrote the screenplay with the author of the book Jonathan Lathem. They did a few changes for the movie. For the better I might add. Norton also acts in this film as well. I guess you can say he is a triple threat.
Edward Norton portrays Lionel Essrog a man with tourettes syndrome. He works for a PI (Private Investigator) named Frank Minna portrayed by Bruce Willis. Minna has got a lead on something big,. Lionel and Gilbert Coney, portrayed by Ethan Suplee, are helping Minna out. Frank goes into a meeting with three guys. One looked like a giant. Minna was like a father figure to Lionel so he is very worried about what Frank is doing. Frank masked his PI firm as a car service. In the 50’s that was a big thing. Lionel and Coney don’t feel good about this meeting but, Frank assures them he’ll be alright.
Edward Norton has assembled an alist cast for his second directorial outing. Gugu Mbatha-Raw portrays a civil servant working to help those being evicted from their homes, Laura Rose. Alec Balwin portrays a corrupt politician, Moses Randolph. Willem Defoe portrays the brother of Moses Randolph, Paul Randolph. He allies himself with Lionel’s and Laura’s cause. Also great work is done by Bobby Cannavale, Dallas Roberts, Michael Kenneth Williams and Cherry Jones in supporting roles. Everybody gives it their all in this film. I definitely think a couple of these actors should garner some love during awards season. Preferably Norton, Defoe, Mbatha-Raw and Baldwin.
Motherless Brooklyn is set in the 1950’s, which is different than in the book. The book is set in modern times. Setting this story in the 1950’s is perfect for making it into a classic film noir on the level of The Maltese Falcon or LA Confidential. It’s the best film noir i’ve seen since LA Confidential. That’s saying a lot because that film is great. This film though has a great leading man character you can get behind. Like most sympathetic characters Lionel has flaws we all can relate to. His tourettes syndrome is just the beginning. He is a smart guy which makes him a great lead character. Surrounded by great co-stars makes this cast one of the best of the entire year.
A great film has to have three things going for it. Great acting, great direction and a great script. Motherless Brooklyn has all three in spades. The setting of the film, the cinematography and score are also terrific. This film absolutely blew me away.I can see this film getting many Academy Awards Nominations in its future. I just can’t say enough about how everything came together to make an incredible film I will never forget. Go out and see this film as soon as humanly possible. Please, I implore you, if you are reading this review stop and go see this movie now!
Dan Skip Allen