Lionel Essrog, the freak show as we call him, such a special kind of character. He and his Tourette’s syndrome makes him an eccentric and a remarkable character that no other can be. He is simply unique. He is the one who makes the story more interesting; he is the one the one who makes the story funnier; He is the one who makes the story thrilling and emotional; HE is the reason WHY we should turn Lethem’s novel into a movie. We must thank the Lethem’s for making a fantastic main character and story.
But I am here to make this movie happen. Let me describe Lionel in a more precise way, to give you a perfect example to why it is worth making the movie. So, your team is in search of an actor that could fit perfectly to play Lionel. I suggest to give a contract to Ryan Reynolds. Yes, the actor from Deadpool. I feel he has a great balance from his look to his ability to perform as an actor. I can easily imagine him narrating the movie just as much as he did in Deadpool. He has a good sense of humour, as proven in his movie.
Anyways, I should mention putting the very first paragraph from the book would be a great way start the movie and to introduce the Lionel; camera shooting the skylines of Manhattan, listening Lionel describing himself.
As previously said, his tics make him unique and memorable. It is an important characteristic that sets him off of the norms. On the bad side of things, he is not very content about it. Not really. He feels it is portraying a negative image to the people around him:
“Some stared, others looked away, bored. I’d been identified by the crowd as some sort of patient: spirit or animal possession, verbal epileptic seizure, whatever” (p.31)1.
It is what lowers his self-esteem, because people can have a preliminary judgement towards him. His compulsions are incontrollable. It is what disconnect him from the world. Nonetheless, he learns to ignore their misunderstood thinking. I feel it is an important message to give to the audience that People with this defiance are not stupid. Moreover, his tics vary depending on the moment he is in. It is a way to give an emotional thought to the audience. One of my favorite part of his random compulsion is when the Afro-American homicide cop confronted Lionel in an aggressive way:
“Can we go back to—fuckmeblackcop—back to talking nice now?”
“What you say?”
“Nothing. Let go of my collar.” I’d kept the outburst down to a mumble—-and I knew to be grateful my Tourette’s brain hadn’t dialed up nigger” (p.114)2
His syndrome is a forceful revelation of his thoughts that could be bursted in front of any situation. It also reveals his opinion and thinking towards things. It could give a facetious moment, perhaps a funny one. They could also be an extra sense of humour, since sense of humour is important part in the hardboiled genre.
Speaking of moments, Lionel meets multiple people during his investigation. But these people can have an effect on his tics. If he feels nervous, his compulsions will become worst. Otherwise, they will be alleviated. For instance, it is noticeable when Lionel meets Julia. But it is more noticeable when he has an intimate relation with Kimmery:
“I was never less ticcish than this: aroused, pressing toward another’s body/ Kimmery had somehow spared me ticcing aloud in conversation/I felt free to incorporate an element of Tourette’s into our groping” (p.220)3
As a hardboiled character, he is not resistant to women. Lionel tics are revelations of his feelings about women. If well executed, the audience will have a great time watching the movie. Iiiff you know what I mean.
Getting out of the realm of syndromes, let’s talk about Lionel’s evolution. As we all know, Minna has a big place in Lionel’s heart. But Minna’s death made a massive impact in his life. It is so impactful that he’s feeling a deep sorrow. In fact, he tried really hard to keep him alive during the sorrowful driving to the hospital. But it wasn’t enough. Thus, he has to face a big change for his life:
“It seemed possible I was the first awake in the world, possible the world was new. I dressed in my best suit, donned Minna’s watch instead of my own, and clipped his beeper to my hip.[…] I’d woken into the realization that I was Minna’s successor and avenger, that the city shone with clues.” (p.132)4.
He is becoming Minna 2.0. He is becoming more independent than ever. This scene may have a serious song, illustrating the deep feeling of Lionel. He will take charge of his investigation and seek for the killer alone. It gives him a sense of authority and vengeance.
Lionel really has a great attention to details. He has a precise description of the things he sees around him. I guess great detectives must have this personality:
“Matricardi and Rockaforte had looked sepulchral to me as a teenager and they looked no worse now, their skin mummified, their thin hair in a kind of spider-web sheep over their reflective pates, Matricardi ears and scarred nose dwarfing hos other features, Rockaforte’s face puffier and more potatolike. They were dressed as twins black suits whether consciously in mourning or not I couldn’t know.”(p.173)5
His descriptions are really precise and can be sometimes humoristic. They can make the movie funnier to watch. I even feel Lethem made these descriptions in preparation for a movie. I strongly suggest that the movie really execute every single descriptions from Lionel, from A to Z, to give a perfect representation of the setting and actions on the movie. They should be obvious on the scenes as he glances on the environment or on people around him.
I believe that the movie will be a success if well executed. Lionel has a great potential to give a memorable story and I think Ryan Reynolds can make the movie justice. The movie should end with an epic uplifting and emotional music, showing that he has to accept what he has everything returns in normal condition: “Make like a tree, and leave. Tell your story walking.” (p.311)6. Lionel is starting a new chapter, a new life without his good friend Minna.