Dir Rian Johnson, 2005 USA (110 min)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas
Brendan, a hard-boiled loner, returns to town to piece together the disappearance of an ex-lover. A sinuous trail of clues leads to multiple beatings from henchmen warning him off the seedy realm of thwarted drug deals and poisonous femme fatales he has uncovered. So far, so Noir. The twist here is that the film is set in a high school, with a cast of teenagers getting cryptic for kicks.
Brick’s underworld has it’s own vocabulary and this jive talk is delivered in an often-incomprehensible mumble. Adolescent affectation abounds as the camera gazes lovingly over shoes, a Rubik’s cube is used as metaphor and pretty lens-flares puncture the suburban desolation of parking lots, storm drains and basement dens. There is charm in Brendan’s detached self-possession, but the head-scratching jargon overcompensates, a masquerade for genuine intrigue. Depending on your leanings you will either find Brick a stylish tonic or a total waste of time. Kate Taylor