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Overall Rating
4.16

Awesome53.16%
Worth A Look: 29.11%
Just Average: 2.53%
Pretty Crappy: 11.39%
Sucks: 3.8%

8 reviews, 31 user ratings



Brick
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A brilliant excursion into high-school noir."
5 stars

The conceit behind “Brick”–in which all the classic elements of film noir (a twisty case involving lies, deceit, murder, double-crosses, mysterious criminal kingpins, violent and hotheaded underlings, clueless authority figures, slinky femme fatales and a tough and resourceful detective trying to make sense of it all) are restaged in the parameters of a contemporary high school–sounds so arch and precious that it comes as a shock to discover how perfectly it actually works. Just to make sure, I went to see it a second time just to see how well it held up on a second viewing and was amazed to discover that it actually improves the second time around because it has a story that has more going for it than a gimmicky premise and a few plot twists.

In this brilliant debut from writer-director Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Brendan, a loner student who gets a panicky call from the once-sweet ex-girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin) who dumped him to “have lunch” with some shadier kids. Although she warns him off and orders him to leave her alone when he finally catches up with her, it is pretty obvious that she is in some serious trouble and when she turns up dead, Brendan begins to investigate. Before long, he finds himself embroiled in a case that would have had Sam Spade himself drooling with anticipation, one involving drugs, a mysterious ringleader known as The Pin (Lukas Haas) and a sexy dame (Nora Zehetner) who is named Laura and who, like her famous namesake, may not be all that she seems to be. To say anymore would be to spoil the surprises in store but I will say that the plot is strong and twisty enough that it could have come from the likes of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler (and indeed, both are paid subtle homage at various points throughout.)

With its weird blend of humor, mystery and oddball dialogue (imagine an entire season of “Veronica Mars” as written and directed by Alan Rudolph and distilled into 110 minutes) “Brick” sounds like a joke–and to be fair, there is a lot of humor in the film (especially when we discover that the vice-principal is none other than Richard Roundtree and learn the living arrangements of The Pin)–but what makes the film work so well is that it isn’t treated like a joke; the story and the performances are all approached fairly seriously and the humor develops naturally from the proceedings. The story, as I said before, is cleverly structured in a way that will keep most viewers guessing without resorting to tiresome plot twists that lazy writers usually throw in to spice up an otherwise dull narrative. The actors also hit the right notes by playing their roles straight without an ounce of knowing irony. With this performance on top of the one he gave last year in Gregg Araki’s “Mysterious Skin,” Levitt has turned into one of the more intriguing young actors working today and his flair for off-beat projects suggests a new Johnny Depp in the making. I also really liked Zehetner as the femme fatale for whom playing all the angles in any given situation is simply a matter of habit–we know that there is something distrustful about her but there is something so upfront about the way she goes about showing it that you can’t blame the various characters for falling under her spell.

“Brick” is a small wonder of indie filmmaking–it is a genuinely original work that manages to fuse traditional genre material with a fresh new approach sprung from a unique sensibility rather than a naked desire to get a three-picture deal at Fox. The result is a real rarity–a film off-beat enough for the cultists to embrace without hesitation but engrossing and entertaining enough to appeal to the masses as well.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11215&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/07/06 00:21:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2005 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.

User Comments

9/02/08 Shaun Wallner This one was kinda boring. 2 stars
6/21/08 Jeffrey G I kept having the feeling that Brick was occuring in the same alternative universe as Buffy 5 stars
6/06/08 PAUL SHORTT A FASCINATING AND COMPELLING EXPERIMENT WORTH SEEING 4 stars
4/26/07 Heather Schroeder Loved it, The Pin is my master 5 stars
1/19/07 Bitchflaps Dense, detailed narrative, but boring and feels like a comic book. Performances 2nd rate. 2 stars
12/12/06 MP Bartley Perhaps not as fun as it should be, but it's absorbing and terrifically well acted. 4 stars
11/10/06 Ryan_A Densely plotted but REALLY good. Gordon-Levitt's spectacular. 5 stars
10/02/06 Mark rubbish 1 stars
9/25/06 Indrid Cold Ole Man Bourbon says it perfectly. 3 stars
9/25/06 K.Sear I don't normally like Film Noir but this one had enough of a twist to entertain me. 5 stars
9/22/06 Paul If you like Noir, you'll love this film. Much better than Lucky Number Slevin. 5 stars
9/10/06 Cindy R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s --style for style's sake does not a good movie make 1 stars
9/07/06 Lorna Brick is amazing. I was very impressed with the dialogue and the actors. 5 stars
9/03/06 Jenny Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great actor! 4 stars
8/28/06 dreher excellent; they had the talk down perfectly 5 stars
8/27/06 Ole Man Bourbon Starts off promisingly, then appears to be pretty silly, then becomes tedious. 3 stars
8/27/06 Naka Stunning, brilliant, complex...what more can you ask for? 5 stars
8/13/06 Phil M. Aficionado Bizarre enough to be memorable, but not worth understanding or remembering. 2 stars
8/11/06 Mike Stewart Geart Movie 5 stars
8/10/06 E. Leo Green A great movie - This from someone who was going to '40's noir films IN the '40s. 5 stars
6/24/06 Shaun I've never seen a movie quite like this - amazing 5 stars
6/07/06 Roger Mortimer Unbelievably bad - approaching "Broken Flowers" levels of crapness and pretentiousness 1 stars
6/04/06 Kacey Great film 5 stars
6/02/06 San Lamar thought provoking 5 stars
5/08/06 lubink loved movie and loved gordon-levitt-interesting view of adolescence. 5 stars
4/29/06 mr.mike well done treat for '40s noir fans 4 stars
4/22/06 Mase Sly,smart, teen movie for adults. May not entertain everyone but creative, bold vision. 4 stars
4/19/06 merpip definitely the highlight of my movie viewing experiences this year... 5 stars
4/16/06 Jamie I absolutely loved it 5 stars
4/07/06 sulky Levitt is the most exciting star of the future! 5 stars
1/23/05 Doug Minton Saw twice ..first night venue sound system weak, film is engaging, fast paced grip , funny 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  31-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 08-Aug-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Aug-2006




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