I read the novel MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN when it came out and mentally cast the movie I thought it would be great as. The only actor Edward Norton cast that I would have is Alec Baldwin who's perfect as the fictionalized version of Robert Moses (full disclosure, Alec's a friend, and Bruce Willis, friend long ago, was well cast as the catalyst for the plot). The book was a satisfying read. What Edward Norton has turned it into as producer, screenplay adapter, director, and star is not, to me, quite as satisfying.
Partly due to some of the casting—e.g. the characters played by Willem Dafoe and Norton himself I see much differently than they're played. Norton is good, and what actor wouldn't want to play a deceptively brilliant and courageous detective with Tourette syndrome. My guess is most people, especially those who didn't read the book, will be fine with his portrayal. But as good as Dafoe can be, his performance felt forced and even phony to me in a few scenes, as did Bobby Cannavale's.
But any movie that has Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael Kenneth Williams in it is worth watching for me. So I'm glad I did.