Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

Copy the link

Motherless Brooklyn: Directed by Edward Norton. With Edward Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe. In 1950s New York, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.

“The first time I saw Tourette Syndrome portrayed in mainstream film was, as I imagine is the same for many others, in Deuce Bigalow. It wouldnu0026#39;t be the last time, however, that the portrayal was an exaggeration of coprolalia (the swearing tic), the shock value of which was used for a cheap and easy laugh.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOver the years, Iu0026#39;ve seen that many people have presumptions about this neurological disorder – understandable, given the circumstances. Unfortunately, Iu0026#39;ve also learned the hard way that many of these presumptions have been heavily (and negatively) biased towards this inferred u0026#39;swearing ticu0026#39;, and I canu0026#39;t help but feel like Deuce Bigalow, or Not Another Teen Movie, or others, have helped shape this presumption.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe presumption honestly doesnu0026#39;t bother me, provided the person holding the belief is willing to have a conversation with me about it. Iu0026#39;ve always been open about my Tourette, and I consider myself lucky and fortunate to have won awards, or spoken with the media, or inspired others, due to my openness and having some small success with writing and acting.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhat does get to me, though, is when the people arenu0026#39;t willing to have a conversation with me. Iu0026#39;ve been fired from jobs once itu0026#39;s become known that I have Tourette, even though it hasnu0026#39;t affected my work. Iu0026#39;ve had dates suddenly lose interest. Iu0026#39;ve been kicked out of bars when bouncers have mistaken my tics for drug use and refused to hear any explanation without threatening violence.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSo when I heard that Edward Norton would be portraying someone with Tourette Syndrome in #MotherlessBrooklyn, I was excited to see what an actor of such calibre would do with such a complex condition. And I was not disappointed.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eMotherless Brooklyn is great. Adapted from the novel and written and directed for the screen by Edward himself, the film is an enthralling and charming noir detective piece peppered with big names playing relatively small roles, all of whom tell a captivating story about government corruption in 1950s New York.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eEdwardu0026#39;s presentation of Tourette Syndrome was refreshing. It was delivered with a level of maturity and respect that is seldom seen on the silver screen. And even though the condition is never outright named in the film, much like his tics, it canu0026#39;t be hidden from anyone watching.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAnd yes, his character does have coprolalia, and echolalia (the tic where you have to repeat things said), and other verbal and motor tics. And sometimes itu0026#39;s funny. But his tics arenu0026#39;t just a cheap laugh for the audience – they affect his character. A PI trying to stay unnoticed on the subway who suddenly blurts out some choice words and draws attention to himself is funny. And when heu0026#39;s consoling someone and canu0026#39;t stop touching their shoulder, itu0026#39;s funny. And when they reassure him that itu0026#39;s okay, itu0026#39;s endearing.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAnd itu0026#39;s okay for us to laugh at the realities of life, however absurd or uncontrollable they may be at times. Tourette Syndrome is real and sometimes itu0026#39;s funny and thatu0026#39;s okay. But at least in this film, weu0026#39;re finally laughing at it for the right reasons. And with his portrayal, which also shows some of the positives that can come with Tourette – as opposed to just the obviously stare-inducing drawbacks – I am hopeful that this may help provide the less-aware with a better, more informed presumption about this condition.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAre there actors out there with Tourette Syndrome (and who are open about it) that could have played this role? Absolutely. Like me. But Iu0026#39;m not Edward Norton. And are there actors out there with Tourette Syndrome (and closeted about it) that could have played this role? Absolutely. But they are also not Edward Norton.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe issue of roles going to actors who donu0026#39;t live with the condition being portrayed has been a hot-button issue for many, and I do think there are instances where the role should have gone to someone else. This isnu0026#39;t one of those times. Actors are actors, after all – their job is to convince you that theyu0026#39;re not pretending.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eEdward was convincing. And I – and I imagine a number of others with Tourette Syndrome who have been subject to unfair or illegal treatment due, at least in part, to a sub-par late u0026#39;90s movie – thank him for being so. I was fortunate enough to see this at TIFF this year, where he introduced the film. Had he stayed for a Qu0026amp;A afterwards, I would have loved to have said this to him in person. But I doubt I am the first, and know I wonu0026#39;t be the last, person to say this.”


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *