FILM : Brick - Classically Modern

If I could sum up this magnificent movie in one word, it would be : Visionary. It's very uplifting to see a movie that suprises you. While you were watching it, you feel that you might seen it before, you feel like you know how the story will end, but then suddenly you realize that it's something that you never experience before. It's new, original, fresh. Brick is one hell of a ride.

Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a student in a San Clemente, California high school. Unlike most outsiders, he is au courant with the intricacies of the "upper crust" of druggie socialites, but chooses to live outside them until he gets a terrified phone call from his ex-girlfriend, Emily (Emilie de Ravin). Shortly after, she disappears. Brendan takes it upon himself to find her and make sure she's OK, enlisting the aid of fellow loner Brain (Matt O'Leary) to shake things up, while also keeping the assistant principal of his school (Richard Roundtree) somewhat informed of what's going on. His intrusion into the tightly knit circle of high school cliques brings him into the lives of several people, including sophisticate Laura (Nora Zehetner), prolifically violent Tug (Noah Fleiss), stoner Dode (Noah Segan), seductive Kara (Meagan Good), jock Brad (Brian J. White) and drug baron The Pin (Lukas Haas). -

What makes Brick so interesting to watch is that it combines neo-noir and high school genres through dialogue, cinematography, and repetition of specific scenes from film noir classics. So imagine students in a contemporary high school start talking and butting heads like characters out of the 1940s crime fiction of Dashiell Hammett. It's a stunt, but a good one.

The performances in Brick are all around good. But this movie is clearly all about the talent of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He's the carrier of the movie weight. Perhaps it was the talent - far beyond his years - that he displayed as he first entered the limelight in the hit comedy Third Rock From The Sun, but it was clear from first sight that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was going to have an interesting career. He could quite easily have slipped into obscurity and scraped a living playing featured support in films far too big for him, as many former TV child stars have, but Gordon-Levitt's talent was destined only to be matched by a shrewd eye for a screenplay and instead he's made a powerful name for himself on the big-indie circuit since delivering a charged and emotional performance in Greg Araki's Mysterious Skin. A Gordon-Levitt film, it now seems, is sign of something to take notice of.

Debuting director and screenwriter Rian Johnson stakes his claim to a potent future in film based on the passion and craft he pours into Brick. Skilfully mixing a noir-esque plot and structure with the seemingly incompatible high-school drama and delivering some of the most lyrical lines of the year through uniquely odd dialogue, Brick is a triumph of creativity, easily pitching Johnson as a director to watch.

Johnson deftly injects moments of comedy - high-school crime overlord known only as 'the Pin', meeting Brendan at home as his mom serves them milk and cookies - without ever diluting the drama and the film's offbeat fantasy never once threatens what remains a compelling story until the end. These scenes do not make the film a satire, but create a sort of 'tongue in cheek' perspective that invites the viewer to laugh while still taking the film seriously as a whole. A scene in which Vice Principle shakes down Brendan like a detective would shake down his key perp could be construed as a comedic routine in any other movie, but the actors never blink. The film could have easily devolved into a cheap spoof by transplanting this style into a high school setting, but Johnson takes his work seriously. The characters are not caricatures, and the violence is intensely real. It's amazing how the whole premise work.

Brick is not a homage but a legitimate noir film that takes all the right queues from classics past. I guess that's explain why this movie won the Special Jury Prize for Originality and Vision in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Well-deserved. Brick is a must watch.

Interesting Links :

Official site - there's a complete glossary of words and phrases used in the movie.
Film- noir - a complete explanation about the movie genre.
Brain and Brendan - an interesting discussion about Brain and Brendan's relationship.
Brick Novella - for those of you who prefer reading rather than watching. Novel in PDF format.
Nazim Masnawi's review


  1. Zack said...

    Shit, man, bila aku nak habiskan tgk Brick ni.... (aku baru sampai part Brendan tumbuk Dode tu. La ni tgh layan House Season 1)

  2. Nazim Masnawi said...

    Cayalah Edd! That's more like it.

  3. Edd Vedder said...

    that's more like what Mr Bowie..??

    Zack.. House season 1? Org dh layan season 2 sekarang ni.. Oh lupa lak, ko ni Astro-less. :)

  4. Anonymous said...

    eventgh its a homage, it wouldnt matter...anw, gila2 best!


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