Friday, February 21, 2014

Edward Norton gets back in the director's chair for Motherless Brooklyn


If you like the Rust Cohle character in True Detective as much as I do, I have a feeling you're going to love this. Edward Norton is going to play the lonely Tourettic private detective Lionel Essrog in his own adaptation of Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn.  

Take a look at how Essrog's character and the story is described by the publisher -
Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn's very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in startling and original ways.  Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent's Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna's limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal. But when Frank is fatally stabbed, one of Lionel's colleagues lands in jail, the other two vie for his position, and the victim's widow skips town. Lionel's world is suddenly topsy-turvy, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case while trying to keep the words straight in his head.  Motherless Brooklyn is a brilliantly original homage to the classic detective novel by one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation.
Lethem's novel - winner of the National Book Critic's Circle Award for Fiction - is set in current day NYC but Norton's script places the story of the obsessive detective in New York in the mid 50's - one of my favorite city/time period combinations. 

Brett Ratnor, partnering with Norton to produce the film, told Deadline:
We all know Edward Norton is one of the most compelling actors of our generation, but I also know he’s an exceptional writer and filmmaker,” said Ratner, who directed Norton in the 2002 adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon. “As soon as I read his script for Motherless Brooklyn I knew this was a project I wanted to get involved with and am thrilled to partner up with Edward and Class 5. Edward’s script has melded elements of Jonathan Lethem’s terrific novel with an original story that at once feels classic and entirely fresh. And with Edward playing Lionel Essrog, the brilliant private detective with Tourette’s Syndrome, this will be a tour de force performance.”

Edward Norton picked up the rights to Lethem's book when it was first published in 2000, at which time he was being lauded for his impressive Oscar-nominated role in American History X. This will be his second time in the director's chair; the first time was Keeping the Faith, the rom-com about a priest(Norton) and a rabbi(Ben Stiller) who fall in love with the same girl(Jenna Elfman). Keeping the Faith was also filmed in Norton's beloved NYC, and in a case of life intersecting art - or this blog anyway -  my husband was one of the assistant directors on the film. I flew in from L.A. with our son and we spent a few memorable months living there in a Manhattan sublet on 110th Street and Broadway.  But that's a story for another time and place, a place I hope to get to on my other blog where I get personal about my life and its many locales. It's all about me me me.


Norton is currently starring in the Wes Anderson-directed The Grand Budapest Hotel and recently wrapped the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed comedy Birdman.

I haven't read this one but the character sounds too good to miss so I'll put it over in that ever-growing pile of books I gotta get to. How about you?


3 comments:

  1. I haven't read this one, either. (In fact, I don't believe I've ever read Lethem at all.) But I like Edward Norton and like you, I find the classic combo of 1950s + New York to be a good one!

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