Staunch Test PASS.

Edward Norton writes, directs and stars in this neo-noir adaptation of the novel by Jonathon Lethem. A classic, classy style recreates 1950s New York in a story with echoes of Chinatown. 

Lionel Essrog (Norton) is a PI with Tourettes and a sharp memory, working for his friend and mentor Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). When Minna gets whacked by a sinister gang, his stranded employees continue to run his cab and gumshoe business, while Lionel sets out to discover what  Minna was into that got him killed. 

A smooth jazz soundtrack accompanies Lionel’s relentless investigation, which reveals dark dealings involving corrupt officials and Borough Authority leader Moses Randolph (Alec Baldwin) whose vision of bold new construction relies on slum clearance of black and working class neighbourhoods. 

Great acting from a stella cast that also includes William Defoe as Paul the brilliant but down-and-out brother of Moses, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Laura a black housing activist around who the story hinges, and Norton himself convincingly frustrated by his verbal outbursts and twitching.  Lionel’s clue-solving skills see him finally closing in on who murdered the man who protected, encouraged and loved him.  This battle about who already lives somewhere, and those who want to appropriate their land for their own purposes is truly America’s story. Good stuff.

Motherless Brooklyn is a #StaunchTestPass.

Bridget Lawless

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