Brick is a unique spin on the classic noir archetype. It’s young, it’s hip and cool, but maintains that suave sense of mystery. It’s almost cartoonish in this design as you watch these teenagers tackle the problems of murder and drug trade amongst the students of their high school, but the feeling is so fleeting you’re right back into one of the most intense crime thrillers I’ve seen in years.

The movie stars a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt who acts debonaire as always, but in this film he comes off as incredibly flawed and troubled, unstable at times. He’s our hero, amateur detective Brendan Frye searching for what became of his ex-girlfriend Emily Kostich. When he finds her dead this sets him off on the hunt to find the murderer in class “whodunnit” style. Brendan uses his contacts within the upper-echelon of students to point fingers at eachother and what follows is an intricate tale woven by various stories culminating in the final dramatic story. He navigates to the head of a heroin-ring, the Pin (Lukas Haas), and his assistant Tugger who exposes him to a whole world of pain throughout the film. But one thing unites everyone; the Pin, Tug, the socialite Laura, and the thespian Kara- the disappearance of Emily.

Gordon-Levitt does a fantastic job in the lead role. He is sympathetic, cool, interesting, and brilliant; but, like most geniuses, he is emotionally dissociated, more objective, even his relationship with Emily really did seem to be unhealthy when you see it in flashbacks. Whether or not it was abusive is still up-in-the-air. All this kinda balances Brendan precariously as to whether or not he really represents a good hero or not. He acts confused and distraught, caring only for the truth of what happened. And he does a great job of dragging the audience with him.

Lukas Haas was a great crime lord, a totally unexpected role that I didn’t really anticipate the movie to throw at me (again, it’s set in high school, I didn’t think heroin rings would really be involved despite the title). He, as well, acts fairly ambiguous- somewhere between villain and partner. He seems to work out of his own self-interest, but also selflessly towards his interest in the where-abouts of Emily, if only out of concern for Tug who you discover dated her. He was a very interesting character and I’d like to see what else Haas is capable of doing.

The film is best at just being deliciously filmed eye candy. The cinematography is fantastic. There were so many brilliant shots that I just couldn’t help but grin at how great they were (the countdown to midnight and the murder of Dode being ones that I remembered vividly).  It took me a few hours to watch it because, as I was constantly distracted by other things most of all my own thoughts, I had to go back or pause it because I didn’t want to miss anything. Its shot with emphasis in the details, we see what Brendan sees. It’s clever and let’s us play along and try to figure it out with him. It was these clues that I didn’t want to miss while watching and it kept me glued. Sometimes the camera would remain fixed while action would criss-cross infront of it (when Brendan fights the jock) and that was just enormously good and again kinda cartoony. The cameraman was extremely ambitious and their experimentation paid off.

Brick is a great noir story with fantastic Raymond Chandler-esque dialogue, but really does retain this feeling of chidlike innocence somehow. Every character feels short-sighted and naive, like high school children are, and unable to really do or handle what they need to do.  But the story is gripping none-the-less and with some of the most beautifully intricate scenes I’ve ever seen laid out, it all comes together as a very well-done film and I enjoyed it immensely.


~ by Ghostess on August 25, 2011.

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