Brick Writer-director Rian Johnson's clever and confident feature debut Brick makes a persuasive argument for the similarities between the heightened sinister twists and arcane hard-boiled dialogue… Brick Writer-director Rian Johnson's clever and confident feature debut Brick makes a persuasive argument for the similarities between the heightened sinister twists and arcane hard-boiled dialogue… 2006-04-21 2006-03-31 R PT117M Drama Mystery and Thriller Joseph Gordon-Levitt Lukas Haas Focus Features
Movie Review

Brick (2006)

MPAA Rating: R
Brick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt | CRIME PAYS The high school noir proves there are 8 million stories in the naked cafeteria
Image credit: Brick: Steve Yedlin
CRIME PAYS The high school noir proves there are 8 million stories in the naked cafeteria
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Release Date: Apr 21, 2006; Limited Release: Mar 31, 2006; Rated: R; Length: 117 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Mystery and Thriller; With: Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Distributor: Focus Features

Writer-director Rian Johnson's clever and confident feature debut Brick makes a persuasive argument for the similarities between the heightened sinister twists and arcane hard-boiled dialogue of a Dashiell Hammett story and the regular sinister twists and arcane hard-boiled dialogue of Southern California high school life. As Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) follows up on an SOS phone call from an old girlfriend (Lost's Emilie de Ravin), the teenage gumshoe talks the talk of Bogart's Sam Spade. ''Keep your specs peeled,'' he tells his legman, a brainy loner (Matt O'Leary) who hangs out by the school's brick walls, noodling a Rubik's Cube.

But Brendan also walks the walk of one who meets colleagues in the kind of joint where a mom pours orange juice — he's a skinny, mop-headed, argot-spouting teen in wire-rimmed glasses who can make the sentence ''She knows where I eat lunch'' sound tough, even though he probably means the school cafeteria. Soon the ex is found dead, and Brendan is punch-in-the-face deep in a mess involving drug dealers, thugs, junior vamps, and a neighborhood crime boss (''he's old — like, 26'') called the Pin, played with lustrous, loony pallor by Lukas Haas. (The Pin appears to live in his parents' paneled basement.)

Brick is all about style and sass, sure — the photographic beauty with which Steve Yedlin blesses the banal scenery in this low-budget indie outlasts the convolutions of the plot. But Johnson also grabs hold of a fundamental truth and seduces us with it: The schoolyard can be the noirest burg of all.

Originally posted Apr 05, 2006 Published in issue #872 Apr 14, 2006 Order article reprints
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