Brick (2005-Rian Johnson)


Brick (2002) is a unique innovative homage to classic 1940s Film Noir with familiar fun notes of American High school drama. Although technically the usual macabre murder mystery it cleverly addresses it in a school environment showcasing that people usually never grow up. The themes mirror and match those seen in adult crime thrillers. Tackling murder, promiscuity, drug use, bullying and selfish behaviour of individuals.

The way the homage to Film Noir as important cinema is expressed through the over intense and sometimes comical use of very 1940s crime and thriller dialogue. It’s an obvious but much appreciated way to highlight the tone of what type of film to expect and what genre. It’s complicated, fast pace with a large map of intertwined people and mishaps that eventually lead to the murder of a female high school student. 

When the “Upper-Crust” does shady deeds, they do them all over town, and the pitch is, they got these little symbols so they can tell each without word getting around.

You better be sure you wanna know what you wanna know.

Intelligent, witty but socially awkward teenage high school student Brenden Frye (Joseph Gorden-Levitt) is contacted by a frantic panicked ex girlfriend. She is later found dead unexplained and he begins his own private investigation to find the cause or murderer. She had been moving in different social circles since their relationship ended and found herself in trouble. A web of deceit, lies, drugs, sex and bullying lies amongst the main cliques which inhabit this high school. He infiltrates them all in order to get information on events and circumstances which led up to her demise and personal vendetta. 

Where Brick (2002) triumphs is the blend of recognisable teen drama formula of popular beautiful ‘in crowd’ who use various method to exclude people they feel socially irrelevant. It goes on to combine this with an established post war crime thriller themes seen in film noir. A detective investigates a murder, comes across many strange moments and characters and a femme fatale female who is aware of her own beauty and power. Its many things we know in cinema but mixed in a way unusually seen making it innovative and refreshing at it’s core as an indie teen film.

This film is Joseph Gorden-Levitt’s break out role as an adult male actor. Previously widely well known as the intriguing funny teenage boy alien in the family from ‘Third Rock From the Sun’ it is here he introduced himself as actor to be recognised on the international cinema stage outside of light sitcom television. Although the lead male character in Brick (2005) is a teenage high school student, he embodies all the characteristics of a full blown hard headed no nonsense police detective or private investigator usually seen in crime. It showcases his range as an actor and set his career on the path it is today as respected adult male actor with great talent.

It’s a cult 00s indie cult classic which sits a large class including Donnie Darko (2002) which also elevated Jake Gyllenhaal’s career by depicting the misfortune and despair of young intelligent loner male personalities. It honours the rich dialogue familiar from Humphrey Bogart films and Double Indeminity along with the themes of subtle dark crime from a much loved bygone era of cinema through a modern teen twist.

Von Von Lamunu





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