Feb 122020

Motherless Brooklyn is a nice little passion project from Edward Norton and you can see that come through with his direction and performance. However, that same passion also made for an overly long film.



Motherless Brooklyn

Genre(s): Drama, Mystery
Warner Bros. | R – 144 min. – $35.99 | January 28, 2020

Date Published: 02/12/2020 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Edward Norton
Writer(s): Jonathan Lethem (novel); Edward Norton (written for the screen)
Cast: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael K. Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee

Features: Commentary, Featurette, Deleted Scenes
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Audio Descriptive (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 41.77 GB
Total Bitrate: 35.48 Mbps
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.0/5

Plot Synopsis: In 1950s New York, Lionel Essrog (EDWARD NORTON), a lonely private detective with an affliction, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (BRUCE WILLIS). Armed only with a few clues and the powerful engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of the whole city in the balance.

Quick Hit Review: Motherless Brooklyn, based on a novel by Jonathan Lethem, has apparently been a passion project that Edward Norton had been trying to get off the ground for some time and marks Norton’s second film as director, the last one being the entertaining romantic-comedy-drama, Keeping the Faith, released in 2000. I can respect Norton’s dedication though I have to wonder under someone else’s direction, might’ve been wiser as an outsider would trim the fat as this film nourish mystery was fairly lengthy considering the thin premise.

On the plus side, however, Norton did assemble a nice cast, some of whom, if IMDb is to be believed, did this out of their spare time and for free, at least the main actors like, presumably Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe, and in the case of Willis, unlike some of his crapfest of DTV films, at least seemed to be trying, despite the short amount of screen time (maybe 10 minutes). For her part, and I have been a fan of Gugu Mbatha-Raw since, in my opinion, star-making turn in Beyond the Lights and she acquits herself as a love interest to Norton’s Lionel.

In terms of Norton, he’s pretty much in his wheelhouse portraying a character with a tick, that being Tourettes, which was done in a respectful manner – and with the approval of the Tourette’s Association of America – but a little unbelievable that in the 1950s, his condition wouldn’t cause more of a ruckus, and instead dealt with some respect for the most part (but then the movie’s focus would move away from government corruption and urban issues). In any case, and real no surprise, Norton gives a near superb performance.

Motherless Brooklyn is a movie with plenty of passion from Norton in front of and behind the camera. If not for the lengthy running time, nearly 2.5 hours, this might’ve worked, but it does run long yet still worth checking out at some point for a well rounded cast and solid direction.



This release comes with a matted slip cover, inside is a Digital HD redemption code.

Audio Commentary — Writer/Director/Actor Edward Norton. I really like Norton and I really enjoyed, from what I recall, his commentary on Keeping the Faith. Here, he expands on the origins of the project and gives insights on working with the cast and breaking down certain scenes.

Making-of: Edward Norton’s Methodical Process (9:38) is a behind-the-scenes featurette, looking at how Norton brought the novel to life.

Deleted Scenes (5:19)


VIDEO – 4.5/5

Motherless Brooklyn comes to Blu-ray presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture here shows off the 1950s era quite nicely with the appropriate colors, and nothing overly bright, while detail is sharp and well defined throughout. Black levels were also decent without coming across as crushed and still being able to discern objects or persons in the scene (most notably, early on in a dimly-lit room).

AUDIO – 4.25/5

The movie comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is efficient, outputting clear dialogue and some nice, if not modest, depth via the front and rear channels, mostly the nourish score and some ambient noises. This is nothing incredible but still effective for a drama.

OVERALL – 3.25/5

Motherless Brooklyn is a nice little passion project from Edward Norton and you can see that come through with his direction and performance. However, that same passion also made for an overly long film where a talented editor could’ve trimmed it by at least 20-minutes. With that being said, it is still worth a rental.

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