THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
"This is not a teen movie." This statement comes straight from director Rian Johnson and never have truer words been spoken. The language is strong, forceful and brilliant, and the settings dark, drug-infected, and noirish, harkening back to Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.
Being one of his first feature films, Rian Johnson has struck gold with this indie movie, making us wonder what he could accomplish with a larger budget (BRICK was made on less than $500,000).
The story seems pedestrian enough. A high schooler named Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 3rd Rock from the Sun) takes it upon himself to investigate the death of his former girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin, LOST). The discoveries launch Brendan into dark corners where drugs, thugs, and friends combine to form a triangle of deadly proportions. Pulling heavily from noir films of old, this updated look and story has a unique place amongst the genre. Brendan’s niche group cares nothing for cheerleading squads or who’s dating who. The level of sophistication is upped to extreme levels, showing us a danger and intellect amongst the teen population never before seen on celluloid.
The noir comparisons are the most fascinating. The cloudy skies, telephone booths, and shadowy locales give an underpinning sense of dread, much like films from the 30s and 40s. There’s even a piano playing portion that obviously pays homage to the "Play it again, Sam" lovers.
Shot on location at San Clemente High School (the directors alma mater) and edited on a home computer, this amazing flick will win audiences over with its wonderful camera angles, dark themes and excellent script. The acting, too, is well done with Joseph Gordon-Levitt appearing in every scene and pulling the quality of the entire production even higher.
My only gripe is the sound. Editing must’ve been tough and several times lines were garbled or mumbled, making it necessary to rewind and find out what was said.
Watch out Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Howard. Rian Johnson is on your tails!
Sundance Award Winning Film: 2005 Special Jury Prize Dramatic - Originality of Vision