Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas
Brendan Frye is a loner. A loner who, after learning of his ex-girlfriend’s death, vows to achieve some semblance of clarity as to how things went so horribly wrong so fast. To do so, Brendan must venture into his town’s seedy criminal underbelly; a scene dominated primarily by his fellow high school students. Attempting to pay homage to the ever-popular film noir genre of decades past, director Rian Johnson incorporates the character stereotypes of these films, but with a more contemporary high school twist.
Personally, I think for what Johnson was obviously trying to achieve, he nailed it. The aforementioned stereotypes are enforced whole-heartedly, what with Joseph Gordon-Levitt excellently portraying the role of the hard-boiled “detective,” who’s indeed very reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart’s infamous Sam Spade character from 1941’s The Maltese Falcon. Further still, the performances put forth by a majority of the cast are very much noteworthy, which is surprising on the basis of an almost all-amateur cast being present. This, coupled with Johnson’s ample directing, (hopefully) suggests more of the same from this newcomer by way of originality and style. After all, who would really want another hackneyed approach to another unnecessary summer blockbuster?
In keeping with the obvious aura of authenticity that surrounds Brick and its premise, I do feel that Johnson tried a little too hard with the script, meaning the dialogue, albeit appropriate, is indeed a little over the top at times. With this in mind, it’s within the sometimes unintelligible dialogue that some of the film’s major plot points become a little convoluted. Granted, it all begins to come together towards the end, but so many characters are introduced in a relatively short period of time that you’ll find yourself struggling to fit them into the story. Despite these minor flaws, the film is very well-written, and Johnson successfully manages to incorporate an excellent blend of mystery, suspense, and even a fair amount of humor to keep viewers thoroughly entertained.
To conclude, Brick really impressed me. I’d heard of Gordon-Levitt’s obscure filmography and the hidden quality most of it possessed, so I essentially took a chance with this one, but needless to say I wasn’t disappointed. Despite the sometimes hard-to-follow plot, it’s cleverly written, well-acted, and above all, respectably pays a tribute to a beloved genre that has been all but forgotten. Once again, let’s hope Johnson stays on the right track and provides us with something in the same vein sometime soon.