Starring: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael K. Williams
Written By: Edward Norton
Directed By: Edward Norton
Studio: Warner Bros
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Edward Norton’s big project that he has been working on for 20 years is out now on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital. Motherless Brooklyn is an interesting crime noir film with solid acting and direction, it’s just a little bit too long.
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Lethem. Motherless Brooklyn takes place in late 1950s and follows private investigator Lionel Essrog (Ed Norton) who has Tourette’s syndrome but a photographic memory. Lionel goes out of his way to solve a case involving his mentor Frank Minna (Bruce Willis).
Why does every movie these days have to be two and a half hours? Not every story needs to be this long. Sometimes it works and the story calls for it, but with Motherless Brooklyn; I don’t think it needed to be this long. With that said, I thought the film was pretty good and liked what Norton did with the story and the character. I liked that he made the film noir style instead of having things take place in modern times. Wouldn’t mind if he made another movie with his character or even a mini-series.
The cast is strong with Ed leading the pack with a strong performance with someone that has Tourette’s. I thought Bobby Cannavale and Alec Baldwin were underused at times, especially Bobby. I could sense what was going on with his character from the beginning, so not sure if that was his performance or just the way it seemed by the story. Michael K. Williams was obviously just a small role so he was underused as well but honestly, a lot of the stuff that was happening in the jazz club I would have cut from the movie.
The first half of the story was more interesting because as the movie went along, things got overly complicated with all these twists and turns, shady dealings with the city, who were these certain characters, etc. Things just get bogged down by it and if the movie was trimmed down by an half hour or even an hour, it would have been more streamlined. Here’s a dumb question I have. How come Edward Norton is narrating the movie normal and not as someone with Tourette’s? I actually did have that thought. Maybe he went with the approach that it’s in his head and he wouldn’t have a tic, stutter or say random words in his narration. Anyway, moving on.
The Blu-Ray offers an audio commentary from Edward Norton, a quick Making-Of and some deleted scenes. I’m not a fan of audio commentary, especially of a movie I never seen before so I didn’t check out Norton’s track. I’m assuming it was informative with details since the rest of the extras are lacking. The making-of one is less than 10 minutes long but has enough in there to satisfy the casual movie-goer. The deleted scenes were short but not really that memorable. I guess the main selling point here in the commentary.
Motherless Brooklyn is an interesting crime noir, it’s just too long for my liking. The story gets bogged down by being overly complicated and at times, a bit slow & boring. Norton’s performance is a good one though, and I like most of his direction. I think with him being involved with this for so long, it might have done harm to the overall movie since he didn’t want to cut out anything it seemed.
Making-Of: Edward Norton’s Methodical Process
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Bottom Line: An interesting crime noir but a bit too long
Running Time: 144 mins