Friday, September 6, 2013

Brick (2005)

This movie has come up a couple of times when I talk to fellow film fans about modern noire. The concept sounded a bit too cute to me so I never dove in. But one evening I saw it in my download cue and said, “What the hell, I’ll give it a spin.” Besides it has Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it and he’s impressed me lately.

Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) knows everyone and everything going on in his school. People come to him for information and for a fee he can find anything out. But things become a bit personal when he finds the dead body of his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin) abandoned in a sewer entrance. Determined to find out who killed her and why, Brendan starts to snoop.

This leads him on a direct course with a drug dealer called The Pin (Lukas Haas), and his gang of thugs. Brendan is able to use his connections to convince The Pin that he’s on his side, and will aid him in a turf war with a competing gang. All the while Brendan is looking for the final clues that will point the finger at the killer. But will the lovely Laura (Nora Zehetner) be his damsel in distress or his femme fatale?

Good Points:
  • Transports classic noire to a modern world with panache
  • The dialogue is just too darn cool
  • Gordon-Levitt nails the noire hero trope

Bad Points:
  • May feel too fabricated to be really work for every viewer
  • The dialogue tries too hard to be cool
  • Will move too slow for some viewers

This is an experiment that really clicked for me. I loved the updated take on noire by placing it in a high school. The dialogue was a great mix of classic noire tropes and modern slang. Gordon-Levitt delivered in a role that was tougher than you’d think. Overall, it was a real treat for fans of The Maltese Falcon but willing to see the genre taken in a new direction.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 3
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I enjoyed this, too.

    That was the emptiest school and town, though. Did anyone but the primary characters live there? That should have narrowed down the suspects.

    1. LOL. Good point. The thing was so stylized it didn't really cross my mind.

  2. I'd wondered about this film too. I was a bit skeptical about it being set in high school. I think I have a pet peeve concerning films that contain only young people. It's like older people don't exist in Hollywood. I had a friend that enjoyed it too, so I may have to add to the queue.

    1. As I mentioned above, the whole thing is very stylized, so you don't get the feeling that is supposed to take place in the real world. I think that helps with the whole "teens only" vibe you may get from it.

    2. Love the mood and atmosphere of the film, which managed to fuse the sensibilites of David Lynch (TWIN PEAKS) and the Coen bros. (MILLER'S CROSSING). A great debut for Rian Johnson, a filmmaker whose works I greatly admire. The guy hasn't made a bummer yet, from the fun, con-artist heist film THE BROTHERS BLOOM to the sci-fi time travel crime film LOOPER.

    3. Nice call with the Lynch/Coen bros. fusion. That is a perfect description. I need to check out Johnson's other films. I keep hearing great things about "Looper".