Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

Motherless Brooklyn
Director: Edward Norton
Writer: Edward Norton
Based on: Jonathan Lethem’s novel
Cast: Edward Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Willem Dafoe, Robert Wisdom, Michael Kenneth Williams, Bruce Willis, Ethan Suplee, Cherry Jones, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Leslie Mann
Seen on: 18.12.2019

Lionel (Edward Norton) is a private investigator, even though his Tourette’s can make covert observation a little difficult sometimes. He works for Frank (Bruce Willis) until Frank is killed. Lionel really needs to figure out what case he worked on that turned out to be deadly. Retracing Frank’s steps, picking up where he left off, Lionel finds himself investigating some very powerful people and making a connection with Laura (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is somehow involved.

Motherless Brooklyn has been a long time coming, but sometimes things are not worth the wait. It’s not an outright bad film, but it’s not very good, either.

The film poster showing a man in a trenchcoat and hat on a bridge.
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Motherless Brooklyn (Jonathan Lethem)

Motherless Brooklyn is the first really successful novel by Jonathan Lethem. It’s about Lionel Essrog, a PI with Tourette’s. When his boss and father figure gets killed, he sets out to find out what happened to him.

It was a fascinating read – when I was younger I always dreamt of becoming a neurologist and curing Tourette’s. Those dreams abruptly ended when I discovered that I had to know chemistry for it to come true. Nevertheless, I still retained a fascination with it (and other neurological disorders). My curiousity was pretty satisfied by the read.

Lionel’s case of Tourette’s rather severe, his tics range from shoulder-tapping over counting to echolalia. You get used quickly to his tics and it gets weird when he doesn’t have to do them. You keep thinking that something’s missing.
The echolalia was the perfect “excuse” for Lethem to make some experiments with language which were amazing, opening up new layers of meaning just beyond what would have been written without it. [And I love the phrase dickweed. Just waiting for a chance to use it.]

The story itself is thoroughly thought through [(c) Stephen Fry] but not really surprising.

It definitely made me want to read Fortress of Solitude. And it also made me look forward to the movie even more. Additionally to Edward Norton.