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Overall Rating
4.16

Awesome53.16%
Worth A Look: 29.11%
Average: 2.53%
Pretty Bad: 11.39%
Total Crap: 3.8%

8 reviews, 31 user ratings


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Brick
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by brianorndorf

"A gimmick that goes nowhere"
2 stars

The quest to try something different propels the ambition behind “Brick,” but not the film itself. A flaccid ode to film noir, the picture just doesn’t fire on enough engines to keep itself breathing, soon crumbling under the weight of its pretentious screenwriting and monotonous performances.

Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has discovered the dead body of his ex-girlfriend. Looking to uncover what happened to her, he hides the body and starts a hunt for clues. Combing the underbelly of his high school, Brendan finds himself in deep with femme fatales, teachers, vamps, stoners, and crime figures who all want to thwart his investigation. Brendan, with nothing to lose, will stop at nothing to find his answers.

The gimmick found in Rian Johnson’s “Brick” is transplanting the hard-boiled film noir genre of the 1940s to the modern day high school. Admittedly, it’s a neat idea, but the ingenuity found in “Brick” in constipated by a lack of directorial confidence, and frankly, a decent budget to match its lofty ambitions.

“Brick” is a moody little film, punctuated with bursts of goofy violence. Mostly though, it’s a deliberately paced picture looking to pay homage to the great detective fiction (Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler) and cinema of yesteryear with its own variety of slang and settings. One of the more controversial elements of the film has to be Johnson’s screenplay, which invents its own sticky wordplay to spice up the drama. Think of Fenster from “Usual Suspects” if he had a 3rd period chemistry class, and that’s getting close to Johnson’s design. Meant to put a distinctive stamp on the film, the dialog grows increasingly tedious and manufactured, especially when the locations don’t match the same sense of fantasy. The cast can spit the words out with minimal hiccups, but the lines feel meaningless dropping off their heavy tongues, and everything sounds clouded under the heavy blanket of the picture’s uneven sound recording.

Johnson is never able to transcend the high school gimmick either. The director fails to make the school a character in the film, instead keeping it as a dull gray background to Brendan’s “Veronica Mars” brand of journey, and only includes one faculty member (Richard Roundtree), a character he does nothing interesting with.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is certainly an intense actor (“Mysterious Skin”), but here as Brendan, the actor is too insular, giving Johnson little to work with. Gordon-Levitt is intended to be the Jake Gittes of the film, stumbling around, falling into beatings and trouble with every passing hour. Johnson can’t find the core to Brendan, discouraging the audience from curiosity about his thought process. Perhaps the whole film is miscast, teeming with young actors (Meagan Good, Nora Zehetner) who clearly didn’t do their Bogart/Bacall homework beforehand, and a crime boss called “The Pin” played by Lukas Haas. I can’t think of a single actor with less screen menace than Lukas Haas, who drifts through the film looking ridiculous trying to channel his inner pimp.

“Brick” certainly wins points for trying to create something interesting with old recipes, and when Johnson lets the fists fly there’s a kooky spark to his scenes of brawling. Johnson’s vision is simply lacking a pulse, and when “Brick” finally heats up to a finale, it’s already deflated and finished.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11215&reviewer=404
originally posted: 03/31/06 15:46:43
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2005 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.

User Comments

9/03/08 Shaun Wallner This one was kinda boring. 2 stars
6/22/08 Jeffrey G I kept having the feeling that Brick was occuring in the same alternative universe as Buffy 5 stars
6/07/08 PAUL SHORTT A FASCINATING AND COMPELLING EXPERIMENT WORTH SEEING 4 stars
4/27/07 Heather Schroeder Loved it, The Pin is my master 5 stars
1/19/07 Bitchflaps Dense, detailed narrative, but boring and feels like a comic book. Performances 2nd rate. 2 stars
12/12/06 MP Bartley Perhaps not as fun as it should be, but it's absorbing and terrifically well acted. 4 stars
11/11/06 Ryan_A Densely plotted but REALLY good. Gordon-Levitt's spectacular. 5 stars
10/02/06 Mark rubbish 1 stars
9/26/06 Indrid Cold Ole Man Bourbon says it perfectly. 3 stars
9/25/06 K.Sear I don't normally like Film Noir but this one had enough of a twist to entertain me. 5 stars
9/22/06 Paul If you like Noir, you'll love this film. Much better than Lucky Number Slevin. 5 stars
9/10/06 Cindy R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s --style for style's sake does not a good movie make 1 stars
9/08/06 Lorna Brick is amazing. I was very impressed with the dialogue and the actors. 5 stars
9/04/06 Jenny Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great actor! 4 stars
8/29/06 dreher excellent; they had the talk down perfectly 5 stars
8/28/06 Ole Man Bourbon Starts off promisingly, then appears to be pretty silly, then becomes tedious. 3 stars
8/27/06 Naka Stunning, brilliant, complex...what more can you ask for? 5 stars
8/13/06 Phil M. Aficionado Bizarre enough to be memorable, but not worth understanding or remembering. 2 stars
8/12/06 Mike Stewart Geart Movie 5 stars
8/11/06 E. Leo Green A great movie - This from someone who was going to '40's noir films IN the '40s. 5 stars
6/25/06 Shaun I've never seen a movie quite like this - amazing 5 stars
6/08/06 Roger Mortimer Unbelievably bad - approaching "Broken Flowers" levels of crapness and pretentiousness 1 stars
6/04/06 Kacey Great film 5 stars
6/03/06 San Lamar thought provoking 5 stars
5/09/06 lubink loved movie and loved gordon-levitt-interesting view of adolescence. 5 stars
4/30/06 mr.mike well done treat for '40s noir fans 4 stars
4/23/06 Mase Sly,smart, teen movie for adults. May not entertain everyone but creative, bold vision. 4 stars
4/20/06 merpip definitely the highlight of my movie viewing experiences this year... 5 stars
4/17/06 Jamie I absolutely loved it 5 stars
4/07/06 sulky Levitt is the most exciting star of the future! 5 stars
1/24/05 Doug Minton Saw twice ..first night venue sound system weak, film is engaging, fast paced grip , funny 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  31-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 08-Aug-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Aug-2006




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