“Brick” evaded my radar for far too long. Despite my admiration for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this 2005 gem remained hidden until it surfaced on a “Top Ten Underappreciated Films” list. Perhaps it was meant to evade my initial notice during its limited release.
Imagine the intricate plot, sharp dialogue, and distinctive style of a 1930s crime-noir, complete with a tough detective, a seductive femme fatale, drug kingpins, and enigmatic informants. Now, transplant this gripping drama into a modern-day high school setting. Instead of leaning into satire, “Brick” maintains a serious tone, a choice that speaks volumes about the dedication of director Rian Johnson and the committed cast who seamlessly weave together the familiar noir elements.
The film opens in classic noir fashion, with the gritty high school sleuth Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) standing over the lifeless body of his ex-girlfriend, who reached out to him in desperation just days earlier. Brendan embarks on a relentless quest to unveil her killer, unraveling the local crime web, confronting the high school’s version of organised crime, challenging authority figures (embodied by the Vice Principal), and inevitably crossing paths with a seductive femme fatale.
What’s striking is the absence of any hint of irony or humour from the characters. Every interaction is sincere and aligned with the noir aesthetic, right down to the meticulously crafted camera angles. The film’s emphasis leans heavily on style, sometimes overshadowing our investment in the characters, but this detachment resonates with the established traits of traditional noir films.
“Brick” undoubtedly holds a place as a cult classic among aficionados who revel in such genre-bending narratives. It’s the kind of film that sparks discussions among the discerning crowd and undoubtedly thrives within the circles of the hip and the avant-garde. Certainly worth your time if you’re open to its unique allure.