Given Hollywood’s dismal habit of overly sentimentalizing characters with nervous system disorders, the Cringe-O-Meter® pointed to red at the thought of a hardboiled detective drama that followed the exploits of a gumshoe with Tourette syndrome. But this was Edward Norton, who did such a faultless job playing the crook who feigned cerebral palsy to abet his career in The Score. And on top of that, it was a passion project: the desire to star as Lionel Essrog in the big screen adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s crime novel of the same name was impossible for Norton to shake. It took twenty years for him to finally script, star, and direct, and at almost two-and-a-half hours, there are times where you’ll feel every minute of it. It may look like a noir and play like a noir, but never once did this viewer feel any affinity for the sleek slime Norton was slowly dragging us through. And no matter how accurate a portrayal it may have been, Norton’s “more tics than a kennel” characterization, punctuated by sudden Jerry Lewis-like outbursts, had a nasty way of breaking, not making character. (2019) — Scott Marks
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