Motherless Brooklyn Movie Review - Engaging noir styled drama
Despite the sometimes confusing plotting and the rather long-drawn runtime, Motherless Brooklyn is more than just likely to keep you engaged!
U/A: Crime, Drama
Director: Edward Norton
Cast: Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bruce Willis, Bobby Cannavale
Director/writer/star Edward Norton's "Motherless Brooklyn" based on Jonathan Lethem's award-winning novel takes a short detour from source material in terms of period and some other elemental attributes. Lethem's book was set in the 1980s, but Norton has transposed the tale to 1959 and there are few additional characters meant to spice up this tale.
The film focuses on Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective who suffers from Tourette's syndrome, who uses a few clues and his obsessive nature (typical characteristic) to solve the murder of Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) -- his mentor, father-figure and only friend. With timely help from Laurie Rose (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a political activist helping African-Americans resist displacement, he scours the jazz clubs and slums of Brooklyn and Harlem, uncovering a web of secrets as he contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city Moses Randolph (Alec Baldwin). Baldwin's Randolph, a master builder, is apparently modeled on Robert Moses, who is known to have broken down neighborhoods to build new swankier edifices of late 20th century New York City.
Check out the trailer here:
Norton's narrative is Noir ennobled, distinguished by distinctive tough guys in hats with an investigation of an apparently straight-forward crime leading to decoding of a social hierarchy with a leader who embodies wealth, power and venality, at the top. The grey dominated tonal quality suits the darkened theatrics of an understated drama. Norton may be too old to play the character in the book but his coming to terms with the fortysomething characters' dysfunctions is certainly a sight to behold. He essays the man struggling to cope with childhood trauma and societal marginalization with delicacy and masterliness. A stylishly mounted period piece, this film uncovers the institutionalization of social ills in American life - in a musically ensnaring narrative peopled with fine actors. Despite the sometimes confusing plotting and the rather long-drawn runtime, this film is more than just likely to keep you engaged!
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