Unravelling Closely Guarded Secrets
Motherless Brooklyn is out in UK cinemas now and here’s Mark Kermode’s review of it for the BBC…
Directed By: Edward Norton
Starring: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, with Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.
Edward Norton directed, wrote, produced and stars in “Motherless Brooklyn.” The film’s journey to the screen began in 1999 when Norton saw the cinematic potential in Jonathan Lethem’s novel Motherless Brooklyn and its unforgettable central character. But from the beginning, Norton aimed to transpose Lethem’s contemporary characters into a different period and plot and give it a distinctive atmosphere by re-setting the drama in the 1950s—a time of great change in New York City.
“Motherless Brooklyn” follows Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome, as he ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of the whole city in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honor his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.
The stellar ensemble cast includes Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, with Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.
Norton also produced the film with his Class 5 Films producing partner Bill Migliore; MWM Studios’ Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane; and Michael Bederman. Adrian Alperovich, Sue Kroll, Daniel Nadler, Robert F. Smith, and Brian Niranjan Sheth served as executive producers.
Behind the scenes, Norton collaborated with two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography Dick Pope (“Mr. Turner,” “The Illusionist”), production designer Beth Mickle (“Drive,” “Collateral Beauty”), Oscar-nominated editor Joe Klotz (“Precious,” “The Butler”) and costume designer Amy Roth (TV’s “The Looming Tower,” “Indignation”).
Music plays an important role in setting the tone and establishing the period of “Motherless Brooklyn.” The score is composed by Daniel Pemberton (“Venom,” “Molly’s Game”) and features Wynton Marsalis on the trumpet. The film also features an original song written and performed by Thom Yorke.