VIFF 2019 | 'Motherless Brooklyn' Movie Review
With a cast comprised of Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, and Willem Dafoe, Motherless Brooklyn surely positions itself for greatness. Add in the 1950’s New York City backdrop plus an intriguing mystery and you can see that there’s a lot working in favor of the film. However, weak writing and an overlong runtime works even harder against it.
When smart and crafty team leader Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) is murdered, Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) who suffers from tourette syndrome follows the breadcrumbs to piece together who is responsible for Frank’s death and why he was killed.
Norton, the director, writer, and star of Motherless Brooklyn, does everything he can to model the theme of this movie around the 50’s mob scene. Baggy suits and classy fedoras, strong speakeasy jazz score, fast talking mob men. Sometimes it feels like the film is trying too hard, employing a writing style and level of hokey-ness that might be more acceptable in a stage play.
Additionally, Motherless Brooklyn stretches its mystery too thin with a bloated 144 minute run time. And while the mystery was intriguing, it’s ultimately highly predictable, exasperating the issue of the film running too long.
With Netflix gearing up to launch their similarly themed crime epic The Irishman, it’s likely that Motherless Brooklyn fades quickly into the background of pop culture. However, if the film ever adapted for Broadway, I’d buy that ticket and give this story another go.
Acting and Casting - 2 | Visual Effects and Editing - 1 | Story and Message - 0 | Entertainment Value - 1 | Music Score and Soundtrack - 1 | Reviewer's Preference - 0 | What does this mean?