Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn will make its New York premiere as Closing Night film of the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13), at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, October 11, 2019. The film will be released by Warner Bros. Pictures later this year.
In an unusually bold adaptation, writer-director Edward Norton has transplanted the main character of Jonathan Lethem’s best-selling novel Motherless Brooklyn from modern Brooklyn into an entirely new, richly woven neo-noir narrative, re-set in 1950s New York. Emotionally shattered by a botched job, Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective with Tourette syndrome, finds himself drawn into a multilayered conspiracy that expands to encompass the city’s ever-growing racial divide and the devious personal and political machinations of a Robert Moses–like master builder, played by Alec Baldwin. Featuring a rigorously controlled star turn by Norton and outstanding additional supporting performances by Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Mann, and Cherry Jones, plus a haunting soundtrack (featuring a score by Daniel Pemberton, with orchestration by Wynton Marsalis, and an original song by Thom Yorke), Motherless Brooklyn is the kind of production Hollywood almost never makes anymore, and a complexly conceived, robust evocation of a bygone era of New York that speaks to our present moment.
New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said, “Edward Norton has taken Jonathan Lethem’s novel as a jumping-off point to craft a wildly imaginative and extravagant love letter to New York, a beautifully told hard-boiled yarn grounded in the mid-20th century history of the city. What a way to close the festival!”
“NYFF has been my hometown festival for nearly 30 years, and it’s consistently one of the best curated festivals in the world,” said Norton. “Every year I look forward to meeting up with old friends and colleagues to go watch the year’s best films in their program. NYFF always perfectly straddles everything I love about the movies. They balance serious audiences and thoughtful conversations about film with just the right level of glamour and celebratory fun. To have this particular film—which grew out of my love affair with New York—selected for Closing Night is just a huge thrill . . . a dream come true, actually.”