In 1950s New York, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.


Edward Norton


Edward Norton (written for the screen by), Jonathan Lethem (from the novel by)
2,210 ( 199)
2 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Norton ... Lionel Essrog
Gugu Mbatha-Raw ... Laura Rose
Alec Baldwin ... Moses Randolph
Willem Dafoe ... Paul Randolph
Bruce Willis ... Frank Minna
Ethan Suplee ... Gilbert Coney
Cherry Jones ... Gabby Horowitz
Bobby Cannavale ... Tony Vermonte
Dallas Roberts ... Danny Fantl
Josh Pais ... William Lieberman
Radu Spinghel Radu Spinghel ... Giant Man
Fisher Stevens ... Lou
Peter Gray Lewis ... Mayor (as Peter Lewis)
Robert Wisdom ... Billy Rose (as Robert Ray Wisdom)
Michael Kenneth Williams ... Trumpet Man


Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, "Motherless Brooklyn" follows Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome, as he ventures to solve his friend's murder. 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. Written by Warner Bros.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout including some sexual references, brief drug use, and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The scenes in which Moses Randolph played by Alec Baldwin is re-appointed head of two city commissions by the Mayor played by Peter Gray Lewis and then complains to the Mayor that he wasn't re-appointed to the third commission and, threatening to resign, writes his own commission appointment and forces the Mayor to sign it are described exactly in The Power Broker: Robert Moses And The Fall Of New York, the Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Robert Moses by Robert A. Caro. After he was sworn in as Mayor of New York City in 1954 Robert F. Wagner reappointed Robert Moses to his posts as City Park Commissioner and City Construction Coordinator but, under pressure from various Good Government Organizations in the city, did not reappoint Robert Moses to the City Planning Commission. Immediately after the ceremony Moses followed Wagner to his office and threatened to resign unless he was reappointed to the City Planning Commission. When Wagner explained to Moses that it must have been an oversight and that he'd take care of it in a few days, Moses left his office and reappeared moments later with an appointment form he'd filled out himself and had Wagner sign it on the spot. See more »


Moses Randolph is shown pulling out a pack of Chesterfields (an unfiltered cigarette) and removing a smoke. However, the next scene and other subsequent scenes show him smoking filtered cigarettes instead. See more »


[first lines]
Lionel Essrog: [narrating] Frank always used to say, "Tell your story walkin', pal." He was more philosophical than your average gumshoe, but he liked to do his talkin' on the move, so here's how it all went down. I got somethin' wrong with my head. That's the first thing to know.
Lionel Essrog: [real life] If!
Lionel Essrog: [narrating] It's like having glass in the brain. I can't stop pickin' things apart... twistin' 'em around, reassembling 'em. Words and sounds, especially. It's like an itch that has to be scratched.
Gilbert Coney: [...]
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Crazy Credits

Shauna Lyn... this is yours as much as mine. See more »


Jump Monk
Written by Charles Mingus
Performed by Wynton Marsalis, Joe Farnsworth, Russell Hall, Isaiah J. Thompson and Jerry Weldon
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User Reviews

That was pretty darn good!
5 November 2019 | by subxerogravitySee all my reviews

I went into this not expecting much but Edward Norton gave till it hurt. Overall, this was a great movie with some amazing performances by Norton and his fantastic ensemble cast. So well acted by such fine actors. It's a very good murder mystery. That classic gum shoe style was done perfectly. I love the art direction. He painted a great picture of 50s style New York. And the music was stellar. Those jazz numbers really blended in perfectly with the atmosphere. Then I had that one piece of music made by Thom Yorke of Radiohead (you'll know it once you hear). This was a really great movie.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | French

Release Date:

1 November 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Motherless Brooklyn See more »


Box Office


$26,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,500,454, 3 November 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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