In 1950's New York, Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective with an affliction, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). 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.
Despite an excellent cast, this film (much as I love NY, being a New Yorker for many years), didn't match our expectations. Apparently, Edward Norton wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, and maybe that was an error. It did capture the mood of 50's Brooklyn and Manhattan (and yes I was there then at times), but the plot was a bit confused and hard to follow, although it began to make some sense when Alec Baldwin's character was introduced, and I realized he was supposed to be a real person, Robert Moses.
Expectations were high with the concept of a torrettes PI in a 50s noir. But despite a strong cast it just didn't have the emotional engagement, conflict, or stylisticc noir tropes one might expect. The torrettes with an OCD add-on wasn't really itilized or convincing compared to similar screen potrayal afflictions such as 'Rain Man'. The era and production design was well done given the limited budget but lighting was more flat realism than dynamic high contrast noir. Music and club scenes were more in line with this stylistic tone. Plot was a little muddled with an anti climax pay-off. Didn't really buy the relationship of Ed Norton's character and the girl or care. Not convinced that Norton was the right choice for the leading Man or to write the script. But credit due to pulling off his passion project. Helps to have good actor mates. Shame it was a bit dull.