Brick Review
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When his ex-girlfriend, Emily (Emilie de Ravin) goes missing, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) starts asking around school, trying to figure out what’s happened to her. No one claims to have seen Emily in months—but Brendan knows they’re not telling him the truth.

When Emily calls him, frightened and asking for his help, Brendan starts digging deeper—with the help of his nerdy friend, The Brain (Matt O’Leary). The search leads him to drama queen Kara (Meagan Good), who claims to know nothing, and to stoner Dode (Noah Segan), who warns Brendan to back off, and to rich girl Laura (Nora Zehetner), who offers to help. As he follows the clues deeper, it leads him past jock Brad Bramish (Brian White), past a thug named Tug (Noah Fleiss), and eventually to the local drug kingpin known as The Pin (Lukas Haas) (who hangs out in a tacky paneled room in the basement, and whose mom serves juice to the dealers who visit). Brendan finds himself getting deeper and deeper into the high school underworld, trying to play on all sides while trusting no one.

With his first feature-length film, writer/director Rian Johnson shows that he’s definitely a name to watch. Because Brick is unlike anything you’ve ever seen—or, even more so, heard. The dialogue is brilliantly written. It’s rhythmic and poetic and fast-paced—and though it definitely takes a lot of getting used to, it’s well worth the effort. On top of that, Johnson’s decision to place a hard-boiled crime drama in a modern-day high school setting shows an incredible amount of imagination (not to mention guts). It’s such an unusual (not to mention risky) idea—one that, if done in the wrong way (something starring, say, Hilary Duff) could have ended horribly—but Johnson makes it work so very well (with a little help from Gordon-Levitt) that I can’t help but admire him for it.

That’s not to say that everything about Brick worked for me, though. When it was over, I was left with a nagging feeling that a few things just didn’t fit—that some of the story just didn’t quite work for me. I wished that clues had come out in smaller bits—instead of in big chunks. And some of the details left me with a few questions. But, overall, my complaints are minimal—and the film’s creativity far outweighs the picky little details. For an independent film with a small budget (meaning a mere mid-six-figures), Brick is a gem.

It’s rare to find a film that’s totally new and different—but this one is. Be sure to check out Brick—and keep an eye out for more from this talented filmmaker in the future.

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