Norton lives through the 50s with investigation story

Illustration by Lindsay Lang

By Samuel Philpot, Associate Editor


Private investigation films can start off strong. They really pull you in with the crime and how the character then sleuths around and points out their details for it. Usually along the way, however, the film can become distant and boring as the characters put all the puzzle pieces together. “Motherless Brooklyn” is a prime example.

Now sure, some people may enjoy those more duller second acts to a movie, because it’s your brain that’s working with the main character, trying to piece it all together. But keeping up with today’s cinema, it’s tough to get everyone to stay seated through them.

Right out the gate, “Motherless Brooklyn” is relatively slow paced, making you sit through a really long, drawn out conversation between Edward Norton and Bruce Willis’ characters, all to give you an idea as to what Norton’s character, Lionel, is like.

Not even halfway through, I found myself asking, “how much longer is the movie?” There were some scenes that felt extremely drawn out, such as the bar scene where Laura asks Lionel for a dance. The band managed to play three songs in that one scene.

I would probably be more upset about that, but luckily, the music in the film was catchy. Close your eyes and you’d feel like you were in the bar yourself.

The film really put its all star cast on a grand display too. Seeing Alec Baldwin perform as a no nonsense hard-ass was amazing. Personally, I hadn’t seen a performance like that from him and he made me feel intimidated. It felt like he could have stolen the show, but Norton and Willem Dafoe kept up and also gave outstanding performances.

The cinematography was the real icing on the cake for this movie. Some shots were absolutely gorgeous; like the bridge scenes with Willis’ character Frank Minna when he was trying to talk to Lionel (Norton’s character). The cinematography alone made me want to stay and watch the rest of the film.

However, the film as a whole let me down. When a movie ends, I want most, if not all, the pieces to be wrapped up. The exception is if they’re planning a sequel. This movie did not end on a high note as it was quite anticlimactic. It didn’t delve into what happened to most anyone after Lionel and Moses cut their deal.

Most of the characters I found myself wondering what happened to them by the third act. They just weren’t around anymore. Guess they really had to make sure they got their money’s worth with the big name actors.

If you know you’re a fan of Edward Norton, you’re probably going to want to see “Motherless Brooklyn.” Not only did he star in it, he adapted it from the novel for screenplay and directed it.


3.5/5 Stars

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