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.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
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