The Peanut Gallery Reviews Motherless Brooklyn
PG Score: 7.5/10
Motherless Brooklyn was very good. Edward Norton did a great job writing, directing, and especially acting. He really hit the trifecta in a way that reminded me of what Billy Bob Thornton did in Sling Blade. Norton plays Lionel Essrog, a private eye who suffers from Tourette’s in 1950s New York. Now, his affliction could have come across as gimmicky if it wasn’t executed in such superb fashion, but the way it’s tied into each scene is masterful. It affects not only his interactions with other characters, but also adds danger to already-precarious situations. The frequency of his outbursts is so high that this was truly a make-or-break scenario for the movie. Thankfully, it falls on the right side of the equation and really boosts the film as a whole. The supporting cast does a great job; and it’s a stacked roster. Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Bobby Cannavale head up a formidable list of supporting characters. Mbatha-Raw is the standout here. She and Norton have excellent chemistry and she delivers a very powerful performance. This film is as noir as they come. Everything from the music, writing, narration, and scene structure screams it. The pacing is a slower and deliberate, but it never drags. Slow burns are great when they have a pay-off and Motherless Brooklyn makes it count in that department, albeit with a subtler result. My only real complaint is that, while the film never really drags, some of the writing does get a bit dry. A film like Motherless Brooklyn that relies so heavily on the dialogue can take a hit when the writing isn’t top-notch throughout. It’s good for much of the film but, with a runtime nearing two and a half hours, the times it isn’t up to snuff are noticeable. All in all, this is very good work from Edward Norton in regard to acting, directing, and writing. I definitely recommend seeing Motherless Brooklyn in the theater while you can.