Brick is an unusual film and ever since I saw it a few days ago people have been asking me for my opinion of it, and here's what I've been saying.
Take a fifties film noir which has a typical private eye, add in a devilish dame, a story of deception and misdirection, then transport the whole story to a modern day school where all the characters are teenagers, but keeping the dialogue, plot and dark tone.
It does sound quite bizarre? Thing is it really works, and it works well, bringing us a thoroughly engaging thriller. A thriller that has more thought than a couple of Hollywood thrillers bundled in one. It packs a punch and quietly screams for your attention, and that's all good.
The opening scenes seem like a brick trying to stop you getting into the film, it seems quite deliberately difficult to get into. The dialogue is short, hard and confusing and the camera sits askew twisting your normal view of this world. It's difficult, but it's a fast learning guide to get into this unusual modern film noir, and the crash course works well. Within the next few scenes you're catching up and although you never really seem to get hold of all the dialogue in the film, you're in tune enough to stay in touch with the story.
That is probably the only real issue I found with the film, holding onto the dialogue. The short, often mumbled lines are sometimes difficult to hear, and with lines coming from the different characters at a faster than natural pace, although more like real life than other films, it can make it even harder. Yet I was drawn to this as part of the overall real and gritty style It made me want to hear more rather than turn away.
The style of the film was superb, the old film noir beautifully pulled forward to modern day and the two matching perfectly to compliment each other. The lead character is the misfit private detective intent on breaking through the local underworld piece by piece to find out who is behind the events. On the way he'll meet a dame and a femme fatale, as well as the crime boss and his henchmen.
It never really struck me till later how odd this combination could have been if I had known before. Film Noir in a modern school with the school kids playing the roles, it sounds like a comedy, but watching the movie it just felt right and worked well, at no point did it seem as odd as it does on paper, or screen.
It favours some visually strong moments, with barren and simple backdrops. No screen is ever over filled and distracting, making this a very sparse film and concentrating all our attention on the characters and the story.
There are a couple of fights and a chase scene which are all very well choreographed. In particular the chase scene which provides a uniquely satisfying conclusion. They're also shown as quite tough and realistic, although the main character always takes a good beating as would the private dick in the old films.
The lead, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is superb and provides a strong and convincing performance, but he's not the only one. Noah Fleiss plays an excellent muscle character and Meagan Good as a femme fatale seems to show an excellent understanding of her character and gives us another enthralling performance.
The story is really well written, particularly the dialogue, and the tension builds through every scene giving to an entirely satisfying conclusion. The revelations in the tale are well paced through the entire story and the viewer is drip fed these to build that tension. It's an excellently crafted tale.
Rian Johnson does a superb job as writer/director and shows us that there is so much more to be gained from a movie than Hollywood would have us believe. He brings a modern film noir which defies all expectations and brings one of the best thrillers I've experienced in a long time, and all with minimalistic settings, strong characterisations and an intense plot.