|Film noir in modern times.||1 out of 1 user found this review helpful.|
Film Noir is almost a lost art today with very few directors tackling what once was the most popular genre in filmmaking. So it’s rather refreshing to see a film like Brick, one that is not only heavily inspired by Dashiell Hermet’s classic crime novels but also shares the near-perfect technical touches of Hitchcock’s best thrillers. And yet, despite being inspired by and sharing many elements with older novels and films, it’s a movie that still feels fresh, that’s mostly thanks to the great set-up and characterization.
Brick begins like many movies of this type, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds his ex-girlfriend Emily lying dead in a storm drain. We rewind two days to the moment he receives a call from a terrified Emily asking for his help, she has found herself immersed deep into their high-school’s drug-trading world and made a terrible mistake. She begs for his help, we see a black mustang passing by, she screams and the conversation is abruptly over. He then spends the next two days looking for her, which leads him to enter the drug world he avoided so much and that once caused his breakup with Emily.
And then she dies. Now the focus of the story changes. Brendan hides the body, he knows that if the police get into it they’ll only find the killer, that’s not enough for him; he wants the mastermind behind the whole operation. Like all good detectives he starts investigating, planning, infiltrating and playing with the other characters in a way that reminded me a lot of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.
The story is carried by the strength of its script, methodically constructed in such a way that lets the characters’ interactions with each other deconstruct every piece of the puzzle little by little and lets us uncover the mystery as it goes. The setting allows it to play around with the conceptions of the genre; it is a detective story but it’s also a well-made teenage/high-school drama with plenty of impeccably-timed comedic moments.
This is writer-director Rian Johnson’s first film, made with an insanely low budget and a lot of determination. The lack of budget barely shows as there are many inventive camera tricks and practical effects that complement the amazing cinematography quite well. It’s a beautiful looking movie filled with interesting shots and great editing.
The complain I’ve seen the most about this movie is the fact that due to its setting, the characters’ ages and rather dark tone it’s difficult to take seriously. I disagree, in today’s world I find it harder to believe that this type of drug-related business doesn’t happen in high-schools all over the world. And even if it wasn’t believable, it’s still an amazing piece of entertainment with great performances, near-flawless technical qualities and an inventive script that put it among the best modern films of its kind.
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