Monday, September 25, 2006

Brick



If an episode of the OC had been guest-written by Raymond Chandler, the hybrid would have been almost as strangely compelling as 'Brick', a movie which was actually written and directed by a man named Rian Johnson. As unusual as it is smart, Brick is one of those sleeper movies that will only grow in popularity as more people see it on DVD.

'Brick', in a nutshell, is the story of high-school student Brendan and his undercover mission to find his ex-girlfriend's killer. Brendan's investigation ultimately proves that he is attending quite possibly the most gritty and dangerous high school in the world, but that does not detract in the least from the intricate and cleverly woven yarn that is gradually revealed to us over the hour and forty minutes of so of this movie.

Brick is made in the noir style (think Chinatown, and if you haven't seen Chinatown, rent that first!) with all the associated intrigue, deceipt and twists and turns. What sets it apart from other examples of noir movies is that, rather than being set against the backdrop of a 1950's detective's beat, the events of Brick present themselves against the unlikely backdrop of an apple pie U.S. high school... I'm going to find it hard to finish this review without using the word 'juxtaposition', but I'll give it a go... ah dammit!

This awkward setting for a noir thriller, fortunately, works. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who will be familiar to most from TV show "Third Rock from the Sun", is coldly effective as Brendan, a resourceful, intelligent kid with just about the wits necessary to keep his head above water the deeper he gets into this intriguing story. The teens in this school are all playing each other, and the more Brendan digs, the more it seems that everybody has an angle..

His investigation uncovers a web of drugs, violence, murder, and ultimately the answer he is looking for. Not only who killed Emily, but why? The story is very well paced, and once I had got to grips with the dialogue, which is maddeningly difficult to understand at times, I found I was gripped. The characters are all noir stereotypes (the dark anti-hero, the muscle man, the king pin, the victim, the femme fatale) but they are all played to a tee, and the unusual setting for this style of movie keeps the audience guessing, right to the end.

I can only recommend 'Brick' as a surprisingly effective suspense thriller. Well acted and tautly directed with fizzingly dense, but ultimately meaningful, witty dialogue, Brick will surprise you, and reward you for taking the time out to watch.

Verdict: Gripping, intelligent, a real treat.
Rating: 8/10


1 comment:

Stevas said...

excellent film-noir sir indeed :)

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