brick (2005)

by zEke

brick posterA good thing about high school movies is that filmmakers do not need to spend much time introducing the characters. We are all more or less familiar with them and a single shot is most of the times more than enough to describe any of them. High schools are a source of stereotypes. All cheerleaders look the same to us all, don’t they? These stereotypes become caricatures on the screen, rather than portraits. Rian Johnson, novice writer and director, gets away from the usual lightness of high school comedies and takes a walk on the dark side with a homage to film noir cinema. Nevertheless, the characters of his movie are as empty and clichéd as the ones in those. Does that mixture work?

Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a lonely high school student who used to date Emily Kostich (Emilie de Ravin). A couple of months after they broke up she calls him asking for help first and retracting herself right away. A couple of days later she finds her dead. Brendan, who was still in love with her, needs answers, and since apparently has nothing better to do decides to hide the body and start an investigation away from the police that will lead him into a teen underworld he did not know about. And seriously, me neither.

A detective story, that is the tagline of brick. It is definitely a detective story but unfortunately and despite a heavy but yet fluent plot, every twist becomes as predictable as the characters’ actions themselves. Thus, not only we know everything we need to know about the characters themselves by who they are within the high school pyramid, but also they part in the jam becomes obvious. Maybe, it is just me, so I will not reveal anything about the series of unfortunate events that separates the beginning from the end. Maybe it is just that I felt it was too big of a deal for high school students and that biased my experience.

Two aspects do shine, if any. First, the script because of the dialogs it relies on. Dialogs that are fresh and sharp, and also drunk of slang words and expressions that by the end you better have gotten used to. Second, the original soundtrack by Nathan Johnson, Rian’s cousin. His stylish music turns to be the perfect film noir accent. Music that features both traditional instruments and unconventional ones, including kitchen utensils.

As for the acting two things, again two, come to mind. One, Gordon-Levitt looks more and more like Heath Ledger, with whom he stared in ten things i hate about you (1999), and is able to keep his hands in his jacket pockets longer than anyone before. He might be as well the best among the cast, even though his character lacks the ability of showing he is not just playing detectives. Two, I do not think most of them believed their, on average, ten years younger characters.

An average movie that fails at bringing the film noir atmosphere to teen dramas. Nevertheles, I take my hat off at how Johnson was able to fight a dreadful budget with his own particular style full of ingenious shots and editing. Not enough, though.

For the deadhours of those who play detectives when all the paper printer is mysteriously missing the day after being replaced.

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official site | imdb

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