Brick a movie with a good foundation

If you ask about Brick and are turned off by the initial one-line description, that’s really no surprise. The premise sounds almost unbearably lame, the sort of plotline one would find in a parodic episode of, perhaps, Saved By the Bell. Simply, then: Brick is a teenager’s film noir – but it is really so much better than that sounds.The film follows Brendan Fry (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he attempts to track down the people responsible for his ex-girlfriend Emily’s (Emilie de Ravin) death. Like any good noir protagonist (this is noir, after all, and you can’t quite call him a hero), Brendan uses a unique slang, works without any actual police and gets beat up a lot – though unlike other films, the effects of this are actually seen and dealt with. Brick is blessedly free of voiceovers, however, a definite noir staple. All the other hallmarks are there: the cigarettes, the characters, the stylized shots, even the soundtrack. And, of course, the convoluted plot.

Quite apart from the many artistic merits of Brick, the plot is truly excellent. Writer and director Rian Johnson never once patronizes his audience. To understand the movie as it happens, you have to actually pay attention. Relying on knowledge of noir stereotypes is far from adequate. Brick is a complex, well-crafted movie for smart people who are able to look past the apparently absurd premise. And for those people, it is well worth the time and money.