Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Watch a trailer for Edward Norton's smoky, star-studded adaptation of Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn

Illustration for article titled Watch a trailer for Edward Nortons smoky, star-studded adaptation of Jonathan Lethems iMotherless Brooklyn/i
Screenshot: Motherless Brooklyn (YouTube)

Edward Norton’s been wanting to bring Jonathan Lethem’s Joycean 1999 novel Motherless Brooklyn to the screen since it was published. Now, 20 years later, a trailer has arrived for the hard-boiled story, which transports Lethem’s story back to the 1950s with plenty of familiar faces in tow.


Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Bobby Cannavale, and Michael Kenneth Williams are all on hand in the below trailer, as is Norton’s Lionel, a private detective struggling with Tourette Syndrome. Norton adapted the story and directs it in his first directorial feature since 2000's Keeping The Faith.

Thom Yorke and Flea’s smoky, piano-driven “Daily Battles” scores the trailer, though the film will also feature Wynton Marsalis’ trumpet and a score by Daniel Pemberton.

Read a synopsis below:

Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of New York in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honor his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.


Motherless Brooklyn, which is very clearly angling towards the Academy, drifts into theaters on November 1.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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