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Brick

Imagine all the elements of your quality noir film. A loner protagonist, the femme fatale, shady criminals, a troubling mystery, dark visuals, etc. Now, usually, these elements are set around the 1920's - 1940's, which was the 'golden age' for the whole mobster/police conflict setting. However, newcomer Rian Johnson puts a new twist on the noir genre by completing changing the setting - moving it from this golden age of crime to a modern day high school setting. This change, admittedly, may be off-putting at first. The pay-off is worth it, though, as the film captures the look and feel of a noir in a very original, and admirable, way.

Here, we follow a teen named Brendan, a loner who's become even more reclusive since he and his former girlfriend - Emily - broke things off recently. After not hearing from her in two months, Brendan receives a cryptic phone call from her. Disorientated and confused, Brendan brings in his friend, 'Brain', and the two try to unravel what's going in the underbelly of teenage society - and how Emily's involved.

I liked the film, but it did indeed have a lot of hiccups. For instance, as interesting as this perspective change is, it leaves a few hole in its narrative. Where are the parents, for instance? We see them a few times, but it feels more like a last-minute joke than anything. Also, "breaking up with your girlfriend" just doesn't have the same emotional impact of the love affairs present in typical noirs.

However, the film still does a lot right. The characters, visuals, and overall atmosphere clearly capture the feeling of a noir. Characters such as Brendan and Brain, our 'heroes', both have that same dark banter one would expect to hear from someone such as Humphrey Bogart or other noir stars. It's hardboiled, it's mysterious, and it's interesting in its own convoluted way. The performances and the characters are all quite interesting, though I'd hesitate to say they're really memorable. Regardless, the film accomplishes what it sets out to do, and that's to create an interesting twist on the noir genre.

There's not too much extraordinary about the characters or the visuals, but this is forgivable as this is Rian Johnson's directorial debut. The pace is fair, though it can stray from going too fast to too slow quite often, particularity during the first hour. Other than that, there isn't too much else to say about Brick. It's an interesting, albeit flawed, look at noir and a good start for Rian Johnson' directing career.

7/10 - Good





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