Brick (2005) movie poster

(2005) dir. Rian Johnson
viewed: 05/23/06 at the Embarcadero Theater, SF, CA

It’s been a long time since there was a movie that I was hearing a lot of word of mouth buzz that I hadn’t read much about beforehand. But lots of people have been talking about Brick and most have been recommending it. So much so that I actually got out to see it.

The film is generally described as “Film Noir in high school”. This is moderately accurate. The narrative is set in a Southern California high school and the kids talk in this weird vernacular that seems a pastiche of old slang and maybe made up slang. It’s meant to have that tough sound of hard boiled communication, I believe. The whole high school thing is fine as a setting, but really the film is more interested in the story, which could have easily been set outside of high school. The whole high school thing feels strange, not trying for realism per se, but some strange fictional world that simply doesn’t really exist. This is reflected in the odd dialogue.

While the world of the film doesn’t feel like realism, one of the more interesting aspects of the film to me is the settings in which the film was shot. It’s this bland, faceless suburbia, with California hills and back alleys of a town. It’s a generic place but at the same time very specific. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Though there are some moments of curious humor, the film largely seems to be fairly serious. The living room lamp in the SUV was a nice touch. The houses are decorated with strange pictures on the wall.

Lukas Haas struck me as quite good in this film. He’s developed into a very handsome guy, and he brings a subtlety to the character of The Pin that stands out among the other characters.

Overall, the buzz about this film seems a little overheated, though it’s different, unusual, and has some true character to it.

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