Brick Rolled

While spending the evening over at a friend's apartment recently, he suggested watching something from his collection that I hadn't seen, and stopped short with an "Ooh!" when he ran across the 2005 movie Brick. It had been on my radar for a long while, but I'd never gotten around to it, and here was the perfect opportunity. Now I'm mad, because if it was crappy, I had a ready-made post title in mind: "Brick Shithouse". But then it had the nerve to be all good, so I'm stuck with a dumb pun about a dumb internet meme.

Brick is essentially a hard-boiled noir detective story, except all of the characters are modern-era high school students. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Brendan, who attempts to solve the mystery of what has embroiled his ex-girlfriend in a mess of trouble, and her subsequent murder. His investigations lead him to tangles with the star of the drama department, the local stoner gang, and a crime boss who lives with his mom. As with any good noir, as Brendan gets closer to solving the mystery, his life is increasingly imperiled.

Everything is done well in this film, from locations to script to acting. The plot is twisty, but never spirals out of control. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really becoming one of this generation's most thoughtful actors, and I'm continually impressed by his range. Brick was the directorial debut of Rian Johnson, and after such an impressive first-showing, I'm excited to check out his other work. American society is often too caught up in blockbusters and franchises and remakes and Oscar bait and incestuous comedy teams, so I feel like when a quietly remarkable movie comes along and just exists as its own entity, attention must be paid.

Brick: B+


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