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Motherless Brooklyn

Edward Norton‘s adaptation of Jonathan Lethem‘s exhillarating novel MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN is a good, solid noir film with a great jazz soundtrack.


Jonathan Lethem‘s novel MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN was a literary sensation in 1999. Lethem told a noir story about corruption in New York from the perspective of insecure detective Lionel Essrog who suffers from OCD, ticks, and tourette syndrome and created linguistic fireworks with an almost classic crime story. Before the book was out Edward Norton, then in his career heyday right after FIGHT CLUB, approached Lethem about adapting the film. The film is finally out 20 years later with a great cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Bruce Willis. Norton plays the protagonist. Norton moved the setting to the 50s, but the references to the current political situation are obvious. Lionel Essrog‘s surrogate father, private detective Frank Minna (Willis), is shot, and Essrog uncovers a story about corruption, racism, and city development while looking for the perpetrators of the crime. The novel‘s triumph was the stirring descriptions of Lionel‘s inner life – which is something that the film can‘t translate. Norton is precise and the screenplay saves a lot of the compulsive misplaced words, but the threat from inside that Lionel feels when a compulsion arises at an inopportune moment isn‘t well-transmitted. What remains is a good, solid noir film with a great jazz soundtrack. Analogue film would‘ve helped MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, the images from Dick Pope‘s digital camera don‘t have the darkness and the sharp contrasts that create a real noir atmosphere.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


USA 2019, 144 min
Genre: Crime Drama, Drama
Director: Edward Norton
Author: Edward Norton
DOP: Dick Pope
Montage: Joe Klotz
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bobby Cannavale, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin
FSK: 12
Release: 12.12.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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