I recently saw Motherless Brooklyn, Edward Norton’s adaptation of the two-decade-old Jonathan Lethem novel about a private investigator with Tourette syndrome. I’ve never read the book, but from what I gather, the movie is an almost complete departure from the text outside of its core conceit.
Departing from the book isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Norton’s instinct to play up the noir elements makes for a fun, slapstick twist on the genre at points, and 1950s New York is a lot of fun to explore.
But the movie also feels a little hollowed out. Norton basically jams a tour through The Power Broker (the famously thorough 1975 biography of Robert Moses, which has nothing to do with Motherless Brooklyn) into the core of his adaptation,…
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