2005 / 110 min. / 14A
Director: Rian Johnson
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas

In his 15-year filmmaking career, Rian Johnson has directed a comedy about con men brothers, a time travel thriller, one of the most critically acclaimed, yet fan polarizing episodes of the Star Wars Saga, and an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, not to mention three of the most acclaimed episodes of the TV series Breaking Bad.
It all began with Brick, a high school set Neo-Noir inspired by the hard-boiled detective novels of Dashiel Hammett. Shot for only $500,000, Brick premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision. The film also served as a vehicle, along with Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin, to launch the adult film career of former child star Joseph Gordon Levitt, who would go on to be a regular collaborator of Rian Johnson.
The plot of Brick is set into motion when high school student Brendan Frye (Gordon-Levitt) receives an enigmatic phone call from his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin), who subsequently goes missing. When Emily later turns up dead under a bridge, Brandon enlists the help of his nerdy friend The Brain (Matt O’Leary) and tries to follow the clues to Emily’s killer, leading him to a local underworld that includes drug baron The Pin (Lukas Haas), his muscle Tug (Noah Fleiss), flirtatious popular girl Laura Dannon (Nora Zehetner) and her boyfriend, Brad Bramish (Brian J. White). Gaining The Pin’s trust to find out what happened to Emily, Brandon quickly finds himself playing both sides to discover the truth, with Assistant Vice Principal Trueman (Richard Roundtree) expecting there to be someone for Brendan to turn in at the end.
Despite the high school setting, Rian Johnson presents Brick in the classic film noir style, including such tropes as its hard boiled detective protagonist Brandon, who is almost comically the victim of many beatings throughout the plot, and the seductive Femme Fatale Laura, whom you never fully know whose side she’s on. Add on the very slang-filled dialogue and you are left with a neo-noir story that is both completely original and timeless.

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