Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: "Brick" is an Unconventional Conventional Mystery Film (Happy B'day, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 188 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Brick (2005)
Running time: 110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes)
MPAA – R for violent and drug content
PRODUCERS: Ram Bergman and Mark G. Mathis


Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas, Noah Fleiss, Matt O’Leary, Emilie de Ravin, Noah Segan, Richard Roundtree, Meagan Good, and Brian White

When teenager loner Brendan Fry (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds his former girlfriend, Emily Kostich (Emilie de Ravin), dead in a local canal, he’s determined to find the murderer and all those involved. Brendan enlists the aid of a local stoolie, The Brain (Matt O’Leary), who seems to know everyone, their hangouts, and all their business. Through a series of intense encounters with the various cliques at his high school, Brendan finds a drug connection and enters the world of a local drug kingpin, The Pin (Lukas Haas), and his enforcer, Tug (Noah Fleiss). But with Assistant Vice-Principal Trueman (Richard Roundtree) breathing down his neck, will Brendan be ensnared in the very trap he set to catch those responsible for Emily’s death?

A hit at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, writer/director Rian Johnson’s Brick is an unconventional Film-Noir (or neo noir) set in the halls of a modern day high school situated in a semi-affluent suburbia setting. Johnson mixes the film noir detective with the gangster flick and the undercover sting. It’s a latte of The Maltese Falcon, A Fist Full of Dollars, and your pick of Martin Scorsese crime flicks. Brick is never too smart for its own good, but sometimes Rian’s concoction seems mismatched with his setting. He has all the elements of noir right (even a femme fatale or two), but those elements often ring hollow against the backdrop of a high school.

Still, it’s always good when a filmmaker can make his movie engaging and make you give a damn, and Johnson does. The film starts off very slow, but Brick is hard to ignore. I just couldn’t stop watching, and in Brendan Fry, Rian has the kind of hero the audience will follow… even into danger and other places Brendan just shouldn’t be and just shouldn’t go. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, formerly of the NBC comedy, "3rd Rock from the Sun," plays Fry with chutzpah, nerves of steel, and the wily charm of a rogue twice his age. Rian came up with a good idea for a crime story, but Gordon-Levitt gives the performance that makes it a good movie.

7 of 10

Monday, August 28, 2006


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