Netflix Summary: When a secret crush turns up dead and the murderer is anyone's guess, teenage loner Brendan Fry (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is forced to navigate his school's social network through intense interactions with thespians, band geeks and druggies (including a grown-up Lukas Haas). This unconventional film noir marked a promising debut for writer-director Rian Johnson, picking up a Special Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
Brick deserves a genre of its own – let me name it “post-modern hardboiled”, I will let Headhunters to be put under the same genre. Rian Johnson does something very daring in his debut – he pays tribute to a style of film making that almost none of his viewers would have seen. Early 30s, hmmm, I don't think many of their parents would remember either!
The filmmaker sets the film in today's California High School, but everyone behaves and talks like they are from the 1930s. The empty pastiche works brilliant as a tribute – he is playing it straight, none of the actors behave as if it is funny. Oh, they deliver some very convincing performances, even though you can feel the artificiality, it doesn't really matter – that is exactly what the genre is about. The mash-up throws up some of the most wonderful dialogues you ever heard - "I got all five senses and I slept last night. That puts me six up on the lot of you." When was the last time you heard such lines and did not roll your eyes?
|The Geeky Anti-Hero|
And it works as a thriller too. As long as the film is running, you really have no idea where it is headed. In the end, it really doesn't matter if the pieces don't fit, they did not fit even for the genre classic – The Big Sleep. What matters is the style, the wonderfully interesting characters and, ah, the femme fatale. The complete focus on sticking the original genre rules sets this film apart from other neo-noir/ neo-hardboiled thrillers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns the anti-hero geeky, and still makes him someone to root for.
A great watch. (There were moments I was thinking – Dev Anand would have been proud to make this as a bolly-noir. That's a compliment, okay?)