amazon, amc, breaking bad, brick, dashiell hammett, emilie de ravin, femme fatale, itunes, jim thompson, joseph gordon-levitt, looper, lukas haas, meagan good, neo-noir, netflix, noah segan, noir, nora zehetner, rian johnson, the brothers bloom, the pin, things are not as they seem, youtube
“What if I took classic film noir tropes and dialogue as well as the detective story and transferred them to present-day high school?” This must have been what writer-director Rian Johnson mused when creating the kick ass Brick. Like most films noir, Brick has twists and turns, information is given (but is it correct?), information is received (again, is it correct?) and danger awaits our protagonist. Will he outwit those aligning against him or will he succumb This film begs you to ask – who should we trust? And who shouldn’t we trust? It is a film that constantly keeps you guessing as to who is doing what and where everything fits. In short, it rules the school. Pun intended.
As if ripped from the pages of a contemporary Dashiell Hammett novel, Brick follows Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt at his absolute finest) as he tries to find out who murdered his ex-girlfriend Em (Emilie de Ravin) after she gets involved with the wrong crowd. Was it Dode (Noah Segan), Emily’s tweaked-out new beau? Or the hot rich girl, Laura (the minxy Nora Zehetner)? Was it The Pin (Lukas Haas), the local coke dealer? Or Was it the diva, Kara (the gorgeous Meagan Good)? We must repeatedly ask ourselves, how do all of these people, as ancillary as they seem, fit into Em’s murder.
Noir writer-extraordinaire Jim Thompson once said, “There are thirty-two ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one plot – things are not as they seem.” Johnson takes this to heart and as we traverse this complex landscape of characters replete with 50s-style dialogue (one of its finest attributes), we have to watch Brendan and listen carefully. We never receive any information that he doesn’t, so in order to figure it out, the little details mean all the more. This is precisely why you should watch this one more than one time.
One of the best first features in the last 25 years, Brick gets better each time you watch it. Its release signaled the coming of a great cinematic talent and Johnson hasn’t disappointed us since with his vastly underrated The Brothers Bloom and this year’s top-notch sci-fi neo-noir Looper. He even directed three episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad. I can’t speak highly enough of this film and would recommend it to anyone. From its eerie score to JLG‘s performance, this film has it all.
It is available for streaming through Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and Youtube.
Here is the trailer: