Brick (15)

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson
Screening at FACT from 12th-25th May 2006

Reviewed by Adam Ford

I remember Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 'Third Rock From The Sun' - a mid to late nineties sitcom about aliens adjusting to life on earth. When that started he was this tiny, squeaky-voiced kid who was supposed to be the 'information officer', so he'd come out with these encyclopedic statements that just sounded weird - and therefore funny - from someone his age. Here he is ten years later, immersed in a drug-fuelled underworld and talking like he’s stepped into a 1940s film noir. Again, it sounds weird, but this time it's deadly serious.

Gordon-Levitt plays Brendan, a high school loner who suddenly becomes a swaggering, cooler than cool detective after finding his former girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin)'s body in a drainage ditch. With help from 'Brain' (Matt O'Leary), he cracks some codes and infiltrates a drug gang led by The Pin (Lukas Haas) and his 'muscle' (Noah Fleiss). With the obligatory femme fatale (Nora Zehetner) also in the mix, well...there are going to be more fatalities.

Brick is just about the slickest thing since Exxon Valdez, and features an exceptional showing from a ridiculously talented young cast. First-time writer/director Johnson is also really clever for basically making up his own language just for this film. In its complexity and tone, Brick can be compared to everything from The Maltese Falcon to The Usual Suspects. But there the similarity ends, because it's all fur coat and no knickers. There is a shallowness that runs throughout, and there is no obvious point of connection with any of the characters. Neither is there a killer punch at the end; it fizzles out disappointingly like a damp firework on bonfire night. When everything was explained at the end, it felt so forced I didn't even try to keep up. Rian Johnson probably has a big future ahead of him, but first he needs to find a decent co-writer.

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