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Overall Rating

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

8 reviews, 31 user ratings

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by Matt Seaver

"A really fun gimmick that sets it apart from pretty much anything."
4 stars

Brick is a very unusual film. Its brilliance lies in the fact that the characters exist in a sort of parallel universe. Itís a world where people talk in strange patterns, with strange analogies, and no one thinks twice. And showing emotion is BAD. Itís a world of noir, which Rian Johnson has brought it crashing headlong into the high-school drama genre, and he handles both sides brilliantly.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Brendan, a loner at his high school. When the film starts, Brendan is outside an aqueduct, grieving over the body of a blonde girl. Retracing his steps shows the girl to be Emily (Emile de Ravin), Brendanís ex-girlfriend that he never really got over. Days earlier, Emily, who hadnít been seen for some time, called Brendan in a panic, ranting about some trouble sheíd gotten herself into. Not understanding half of what she said, Brendan enlists the help of The Brain (Matt OíLeary), who knows just about everything that goes on in the school, and begins unraveling the events that eventually led to Emilyís death. In doing so, he must burrow deep into an underground drug syndicate that Emily was linked to, agitating an already volatile situation.

For the first half hour, the gimmick is a hard sell Ė as a viewer, you really need to readjust your perception of normal speech and behavior. Once you get there, though, the world is so engaging that the snippets of reality that pop up every once in awhile are almost jarring. Most interesting is that for the most part, these characters operate almost completely independent of adult involvement. They are so on their own that it almost seems absurd when The Brain remarks that heíll have to borrow his motherís car. All the dialogue is so well-written and performed that you'll quickly pick up the flow of it.

Most of the sell comes from Brendan, who Levitt plays beautifully as a detective in Sam Spadeís vein. His determination to solve the mystery at all costs pushes the story forward, and Levittís commitment to what heís doing neatly steps over the convoluted language barriers to ensure the audience never gets lost. Itís also nice to see a character that is smart, and can back it up physically. Brendan is no stranger to altercations, and Gordon-Levittís size is no disadvantageÖ thereís no problem believing his fight with a football player (Brian J. White). Also fun is Nora Zehetner as Laura, a classmate who seems to have a thing for Brendan, and who also seems to have her fingers in every relevant pot, playing every side. She gives a great ambiguity throughout the film as she is attached to each of the key players, and vies to keep Brendanís attention Ė for better or worse.

To his credit, Johnson uses a visual style that I see as a good modern equivalent of the brooding darkness of many classic noir films. The film looks grainy and washed out, which gives it a very gritty feel. It may very well be a result of the film stock their budget forced them to use, or it might have been a conscious decision on Johnsonís part. Either way, itís a nice twist to the film quality that draws just the right reactions and emotions out of the audience.

To top it all off, through all the hard-nosed detective stuff, this is a really funny film. Every once in awhile, a reminder that these are high school students will stick its nose through and just crack the exterior Ė not enough to detract from the other elements, but enough to break the intensity for a moment. More amusing is when those breaks come at the most intense scenes Ė a standoff between Brendan and The Pin (Lukas Haas), one of the main antagonists, which happens at The Pinís breakfast tableÖ presided over by his mother serving breakfast in the awkward silence. Great stuff.

Really the only downisde to Brick is the potential to not engage. This is a very rare structure in film, and a beautifully written script that sacrifices a bit of its accessibility for the good of the film. There are those people who simply will not click with it, who can't pick up the unusual pace and flow and roll with it, and that's ok. It leaves more for the rest of us.

I saw ďBrickĒ in the screening room at the Coolidge Corner Theater, which canít seat more than 40 people, and that was perfect. It gave a real voyeuristic sense to the film, peeping in on that world as much as Brendan is forcing himself into the crime world. Itís a great little film with some solid performances and a really fun concept, and itís sad that so few people will probably see it. Be sure to check out the DVD in August, since I doubt many places are still carrying it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11215&reviewer=412
originally posted: 06/02/06 09:23:19
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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
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
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  31-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 08-Aug-2006



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