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Warner Bros. Pictures released the first trailer for Motherless Brooklyn on Thursday.
Set in 1950s New York, the film follows lonely private detective Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) who lives with Tourette syndrome. With only a few clues and his own obsessive mind, Lionel sets out to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Throughout his investigation, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of the entire city in the balance.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe round out the cast. Norton wrote and directed the film, which uses the main character of Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn novel to tell a new neo-noir narrative.
The trailer opens with Lionel confiding that there’s “something wrong” with him. “I twitch and shout a lot. It makes me look like a damn freak show,” he says in a voiceover as clips show how his Tourette syndrome gets in the way of his daily life. “But inside my head’s an even bigger mess. I can’t stop twisting things around.”
Lionel then reflects on his former boss and friend, Frank. “He’s the one that taught me how to use my head. Turn it into a strength,” Lionel says about Frank. “He gave me a place in this crappy world until I screwed up.”
Frank is later shot to death, which Lionel feels he is responsible for. “Brooklyn, she’s in trouble now,” Frank tells Lionel as he’s wheeled into the hospital after being shot.
Unsure of who Frank is talking about before his death, Lionel sets out on a mission for answers and to seek revenge against his mentor’s killer. “If I figure it out, I’m gonna make them regret it,” Lionel says as he loads a gun. “I promise you that.”
Lionel eventually tracks down the woman (Mbatha-Raw) that Frank had been following. She informs him that no one cares about the poor community, which influences Lionel to set his sights on Moses Randolph (Baldwin).
“Do you have the first inkling about how power works?” Moses, who runs the city, later asks Lionel. “Power is knowing that you can do whatever you want and not one person can stop you. Those people are invisible. They don’t exist.”
Paul Randolph (Dafoe) later warns Lionel to not mess with Moses. “If you threaten his work, he will destroy you,” he says.
The movie made headlines in March of 2018 when a fatal fire broke out below the set that engulfed the building. New York City firefighter Michael R. Davidson died battling a fierce blaze in a former jazz club after he was separated from his fellow firefighters in the thick smoke.
Residents of the Harlem building sued Norton’s production company Class 5 Films and the property’s owner for $7 million each. Erica and George Cruz claimed that the production company kept highly flammable equipment in the building’s basement. The New York Fire Department ultimately determined that a boiler venting heat was the cause of the fire.
The film will hit theaters on Nov. 1. Watch the full trailer above.
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