In a world of crashes, bangs and incomprehensible action sequences, Edward Norton’s crime drama Motherless Brooklyn is sweet, subtle respite.

The story of Lionel, a private investigator whose dive in to solve the murder of his mentor begins to unravel conspiracy and scandal within the entire New York municipal and housing system, is one of the more intricate and unique screenplays of the year.

Norton — who stars as Lionel, who also has Tourette’s Syndrome — also produces, directs and wrote the adaptation for the screen. His quadruple duty output makes for one of the most ambitious, beautiful films of his career. His performance is among his — and 2019’s — best.

While the film meanders, is overlong and sometimes falters in self-indulgence, it’s also a breathtaking look at 50’s Brooklyn from an elegant lens, with Norton succeeded behind the camera on momentous occasions.

With a game supporting cast including Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin and a star-making turn for Gugu Mbatha-Raw, this is an ensemble worth keeping your eyes on.

Motherless Brooklyn finds the majestic in the mundane streets of Brooklyn, and the thrills in a story of corruption. This is an absorbing — if ultimately undistinguished — send-up of classic noir films of old.

Bolstering Norton’s most prolific turn in years, he wears all hats boldly. Even when he missteps, his two-decade fight to bring this film to fruition has become a reality.

This contemplative work is still a distinct, engrossing enough cinematic endeavour to warrant your attention.

Jordan Parker is a PR professional and journalist in Halifax, and these reviews appear first on his film blog Parker & the Picture Shows.