Screened as part of NZIFF 2006

Brick 2005

Directed by Rian Johnson

Joseph Gordon-Levitt channels Bogart to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend in this inspired fusion of teenage confidential and film noir set in a Southern California high school.

USA In English
110 minutes

Director, Screenplay


Steve Yedlin

Production designer

Jodie Tillen

Costume designer

Michele Posch


Jonathan Miller


Nathan Johnson


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


Sundance 2005


Brick is an inspired fusion of teenage confidential and hard-boiled film noir set in the mean corridors and power cliques of a contemporary Southern California high school. It starts, as all good detective stories should, with the disappearance of a young dame, who has just enough time to make a desperate appeal to her ex-boyfriend, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), for help before vanishing, then turns up dead. From there, the plot takes a series of serpentine turns to rival The Maltese Falcon as Brendan becomes embroiled in the web of vice and deceit that surrounds her murder. But what makes first-time writer/director Rian Johnson’s cinematic vision so powerful – and so entertaining – is the utter conviction with which he carries out his conceit. Beyond the surface of enjoyable teenage kicks, the existentialist vibe of film noir becomes a perfect metaphor for the twin evils of malice and alienation that loiter around the average high school. Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin) is outstanding as the Bogartian hero who wrestles with a despicable cast of jocks, hoods and femmes fatales en route to solving the mystery. Brick was deservedly awarded a Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. — Bianca Zander

“Rest assured, Brick is no kitsch spectacle. It’s cool, Daddy-o, with characters who talk like refugees from a beat-poetry contest (the press notes come complete with a glossary of hepcat terms) and an enveloping mystery rooted in the most enigmatic lady in a lake (or drainage canal) since Laura Palmer washed up on the shores of Twin Peaks.” — Scott Foundas, LA Weekly