From the first scene I was ambushed, happily held captive; reminiscent of archaic Humphrey Bogart movies; Edward Norton gives viewers a character of comprehensive uniqueness; afflicted with Tourette’s syndrome, in tandem with a photographic memory, private detective “Lionel Essrog” (Motherless Brooklyn) relentlessly pursues his boss and closest friend’s killer; Bruce Willis as “Frank Minna” owns this minimal but gutsy role; New York in the 1950’s, shadowed by the untoward Tammany Hall, surreptitious dealings are a way a life; everyone is out to make a buck, but Lionel and his untainted moral code rule, suffuse every moment of this stellar film.
Flawless casting and preeminent writing resulting in meaty performances by: Gugu Mbatha-Raw as community activist, “Laura”, supremely vulnerable and captivatingly beautiful; Alec Baldwin, as tainted but gifted developer, “Moses Randolph” scores and sublimely reeks as an indomitable, scurvy force in the city’s elite; Willem Dafoe (looking like Van Gogh) is the barometer of righteousness, custodian, champion of “secrets”, his daring and hefty performance is admirably epochal. Negligible roles by actors Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones and especially Michael Kenneth Williams as a talented but troubled jazz musician, add to the noir flavor, underbelly of the era.
Based on the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem, Edward Norton’s adaptation sears with originality, unorthodoxy, and a splendid soul.
This sums it up PERFECTLY…from the moment the movie opened I was captivated. To see Edward Norton carry off this difficult role with such skill was a treat in and of itself. The story was vintage but so believable. I think it was so much more entertaining than I ever imagined.
Love it when we are on the same “page”! P