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Motherless Brooklyn Review

By Ian Crow

Set in the 1950’s, a private detective named Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) seeks out to finds answers to the death of his close friend and mentor Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Lionel sets out on a lonely mission to find justice to the murder whilst battling inner demons and a rare condition of Tourette’s syndrome. As he digs into the reasons why his best friend was murdered, he starts to get involved into deep water with people he wished he never met.

Admittedly, ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ arrived in cinemas without much notice. We don’t recall seeing any marketing for the film so when it was released, we were intrigued by its story and mainly by Edward Norton. We were specifically interested in how pivotal the Tourette’s syndrome would be with the story. Would we be given a dark, broody detective story with a twist that we haven’t encountered before or is it just an unnecessary addition to a characters background to make the film seem more interesting? Well in regards to its original entity, the film is based on a book by author Jonathan Lethem and the character was well received for its use of the illness and not using it to undermine his ability as a detective. This can be said for the film adaptation; Edward Norton plays the character of Lionel well and makes the character extremely likeable from the get-go. Naturally, this is Norton’s key elements as an actor, he is instantly liked and in films like this where you have to be connected with the main character, he makes it work. One of the issues we have is that the characters illness seems to be used as a comedic element for the film. There are times when it is conveniently used to further throw the character into more complicated situations because of his illness. After a while of experiencing the ticks of Lionel’s Tourette’s, it can be misconstrued for annoying.

This is Norton’s second directorial effort, his first being the comedy romance ‘Keeping the Faith’ which was received averagely by the press on its release back in 2000. ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ is an improvement on his first attempt behind the camera but still lacks the eye for a really good shot and not utilising the camera enough to translate tension on the screen. Whether the main issue lies with Norton’s camera work or the average script, the film flutters its way through to a forgettable and brain stuffed multiple-plot mess of an ending. If you think it’s just about him investigating a murder, then you are in for a shock. The movie has multiple sub-plots that pop up as the film goes on. It feels like you jump off the main story line and then onto another with 40 minutes. This left us confused and questioning whether it was the same film or not.

‘Motherless Brooklyn’ is one that we won’t be visiting anytime soon. It’s an average movie that is overly long at nearly two and a half hours; the main issue with it being so long is that there doesn’t seem to be enough good content to warrant its run time. We predict this will leave UK cinemas in a hurry and the majority of you wonderful people will forget it even existed.

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