Jun 1, 2009
Rating: 9 out of 10. Not bad, shamus, but you forgot one thing...
I read a review in the Onion AV Club's "New Cult Classics" series praising this little-seen but much-praised 2005 movie, and I'm very glad I did.
Brick is nothing more or less than a film noir set in a high school. The dialogue is almost entirely done with a Chandler-esque sensibility, including some slang that will leave you puzzled if you're not familiar with the genre. Even if you are, the dialogue can be a bit hard to hear at times, so you may have to resort to subtitles now and then.
Brendan (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is a high school loner who we first see staring at the body of his ex-girlfriend Emily, lying face down in a storm drain. The movie then flashes back two days to give us a little background on the situation, including a tearful and mysterious phone call between the two in which Emily asks Brendan for help but then hangs up in fear of an approaching car.
After discovering Emily's body, Brendan makes the dubious choice of hiding it, in order to pursue his own investigation/vengeance before the police get in the way. His style of investigation is pure Phillip Marlowe -- he gets his ass kicked a lot, but never loses his wry sense of humor or smartass dialogue. He doesn't have all the answers, but he'll get them sooner or later.
Some great supporting performances are also featured, including Richard Roundtree as a tough vice principal and a fantastic Lukas Haas as a sinister underworld figure.
The standout, though, is Gordon-Levitt, who sells Brendan as a troubled high school loner and a flatfoot right out of a Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler story with amazing results. He's actually required to show a lot more range of emotion than the characters Brendan is inspired by, but does so without missing a beat.