Friday, June 18, 2010
Set in a non-descript California high school, Brick is the tale of a young man, Brendan who answers the plea for help from his ex-girlfriend Emily. When he finds Emily’s body, Brendan is wracked with guilt because he did not act fast enough and decides to start shaking things up. As Brendan investigates the last few months of Emily’s life he unearths the shady underbelly of his city that he’s avoided and gets wrapped up with the Pin a local drug dealer, his main muscle Tug, and Laura who may or may not be on his side. As Brendan works through the mysteries surrounding Emily he gets pulled deeper into a void that he tries to keep from spiraling out of control and consuming him the way it consumed Emily.
If you haven’t experienced Brick yet, I cannot urge you enough to find it. This film is Rian Johnson’s feature directorial debut, and let me tell you it has rocketed him to the top of my list of director’s to watch. Brick was made for next to nothing in terms of budgets, but Johnson used every resource available to him, filled the cast with young but impeccable talent, and filled the screen with compelling visuals and uses writing and dialogue the way a painter uses oils. It’s a beautiful thing.
Brick works so well because it’s a hard boiled film noir that chooses not to worry about paying homage to its roots. When the story already has drugs, crime, a femme fatale and an anti-hero there’s enough going on that Johnson knew directly referencing any noir would be like hitting the nail on the head – too hard. Instead you are ushered into an odd setting for a noir, a contemporary high school and given all of the pieces of the puzzle as Brendan is given them and the journey is what drives the homage and the viewing experience.
I can’t get out of talking about Brick without showering some praise on the man that brings Brendan to life – Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Brendan is the role that landed Gordon-Levitt on the map of young actors to watch and provided a solid foundation for the years that have passed since; though he is young Gordon-Levitt doesn’t have to worry about a pay check and instead has chosen to appear in films that he selects based on content – this has kept him out of the trap of making work just to eat. In this, as with most of his films, Gordon-Levitt disappears into the role and what makes the skill involved here most believable is that the complex dialogue rolls off his tongue as if it were second nature. This is quite a feat on a film as unique as Brick.
I’ll finish up by saying it again, find this movie. Sooner rather than later. Maybe like me you’ll want to drive down to San Clemente and explore the sights you recognize from the movie too.
Director & Writer: Rian Johnson
Brendan: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Laura: Nora Zehtner
The Pin: Lukas Has
Tug: Noah Fleiss
The Brain: Matt O’Leary
Emily: Emilie de Ravin
Dode: Noah Segan
Kara: Megan Goode
Brendan: Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept
last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you.