High-school loner Brendan (Gordon-Levitt) is still silently pining over his ex-girlfriend Emily (de Ravin), who hasn’t been seen for days. After receiving a panic-stricken phone call from her asking for help, however, Brendan attempts to track Emily down, getting deeper into local cliques and drug-dealers in the process…
A stylish experiment which splices together two opposing genres, Brick probably isn’t what first-time viewers will be expecting, Transplanting the hard-boiled dialogue of ‘40s film noir to a modern high-school setting, writer-director Rian Johnson certainly win points for originality, as his cool indie debut uses precocious teenagers to tell a smart mystery thriller. Undoubtedly though, his first feature isn’t for everyone, and it takes time to acclimatise to high-schoolers talking like characters from a Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett gumshoe whodunit. Steeped in doomy noir sensibilities and dark edges yet taking place in the wide-open suburbs of California, it’s the sort of mash-up you might get if David Lynch remade The OC by way of The Maltese Falcon.
And unlike Bugsy Malone, Johnson plays it completely straight. Of course, the contrasting genres lead to a few memorable scenes (Brendan meeting with Richard Roundtree’s assistant principal is like him being hauled in by a ball-breaking police captain, while a tense drug meeting later is interrupted by the dealer’s mum bringing refreshments), but happily there’s no winking at the audience. In truth, this bizarre experiment isn’t the masterpiece many have made it out to be, but it’s undoubtedly original, impressive given the tiny budget and often oddly absorbing. Plus, the then relatively-unknown Joseph Gordon-Levitt (well, unknown if you didn’t watch Third Rock From The Sun) is fantastic in the lead, while Nora Zehetner is noteworthy as the femme fatale.
A stylish experiment which splices together two opposing genres, Brick probably isn’t what first-time viewers will be expecting. But while not the masterpiece many have made it out to be, it’s undoubtedly original, impressive given the tiny budget and often oddly absorbing.