Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Based on a book of the same name by Jonathan Lethem that came out in 1999, the adaptation of Motherless Brooklyn has been a passion project for Edward Norton. This is Norton’s first directorial venture and he has also written the screenplay for the film along with playing the lead.

Noir films have become a dying art

Set in 1950s New York, Motherless Brooklyn follows the life of private detective Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) who suffers from Tourette syndrome. When Frank Minna (Bruce Willis), his boss, mentor, and friend, gets killed after an altercation with some mysterious men, Lionel sets out to discover more about the case he was working on that got him killed.

Setting it in the past works for the film

Motherless Brooklyn takes place in the streets of New York, jazz clubs, and looming buildings. The cinematography and Daniel Pemberton‘s score work well together to bring this noir detective mystery to life.

Edward Norton brings depth to this crime drama

Edward Norton gives a sincere performance as Lionel. The depiction of Tourette’s is handled well, with Lionel’s tics leading to some amusing interactions as people reacted differently to the affliction that at the time when it wasn’t known about. Motherless Brooklyn also has a great supporting cast with Alec Baldwin playing a suspicious government official, Bobby Cannavale playing Lionel’s co-worker at Minna’s agency, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a person of interest in the investigation, and Willem Dafoe as a helpful citizen who turns out to be something more.


Don’t miss this film if you are a fan of noir films or Edward Norton. Motherless Brooklyn is an interesting mystery which features unexpected plot twists and also gives you a lot to think about.

Director: Edward Norton
Writer: Edward Norton
Cast: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Language: English
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video