Brick (2005)

(On DVD, October 2016) I have an unaccountable fondness for high-concept films, and since Brick can be summed up as “high-school noir”, you can imagine that I liked it quite a bit. Joseph Gordon-Lewitt stars as an outcast in his own school, abruptly asked to investigate a sordid story involving murder, drugs, sex and organized crime. It could have been a comedy or a satire, but it turns out that writer/director Rian Johnson cleverly chooses to play things as straight as he can: For all of the tough-guy dialogue, femme fatales, bleak atmosphere and rough play of the classic noir elements, Brick does not smirk to its audience nor wallow in self-awareness: it simply plays with the typical elements of hard-boiled noir crime fiction within a high school and sees where things go. We never spend much time in class and most of the adults are useless to the teenage characters, but the very cool result makes the most of its low budget. While Brick probably earns a lot of attention nowadays for being the feature film debut of a writer/director who has since delivered two solid films and is poised to direct the next big Star Wars movie, it’s a solid, perfectly enjoyable film in its own right. Noir fans in particular will simply love it.

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