I usually write a review almost immediately after seeing a film and due to time constraints generally write just one draft. Thankfully I’ve waited until the following morning to write something about Brick as the extra few hours has allowed me to work it around in my head and appreciate some of the finer details of the film which last night I just thought were confusing and dull.
High School student Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a bit of a loner these days after breaking up with his girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin) and reporting his friend to the School’s Vice Principle. Brendan receives an unexpected and garbled phone call from Emily who talks about items such as a brick and a pin and something about Frisco before abruptly hanging up. Concerned for her safety Brendan goes about tracking her down but finds he is too late to help so then sets out to discover what the pin is, who or what is Frisco and what it all has to do with Emily and a brick.
The film was shot for a minuscule budget of just $475,000 in twenty days and this sometimes shows but generally the indie vibe works in the films favour. The movie has an entire school to utilise as well as several other locations in San Clemente, California in which it is set. What I didn’t get at first but started to dawn on me as the film progressed was that the film isn’t simply a story of High School kids getting into trouble but it’s a kin to Bugsy Malone in a way, in that it’s kids playing gangsters, cops and killers. The cast are all High School students but characters include a drug baron, his muscle, a woman in trouble… in trouble, a seductive temptress and a hard nosed detective, working outside of the law. All of these are classic Noire detective movie characters and the plot and dialogue carry on with the Noire themes and characteristics. Characters make phone calls from pay phones and talk far too quickly, in strange, old fashioned ways and there are heavily disguised as well as blaringly obvious clues dotted around the film for the audience and characters to ponder.
As well as a Noire feeling, at times there are also Western vibes too. The soundtrack would easily suit a Western and there are shots of wide open, semi desert landscapes and plenty of big sky plus a lone wolf central character who’ll stop at nothing to uncover the story. His reaction to fights and beatings also maintains this John Wayne style Western characterisation. So basically this film is like Bugsy Malone meets Rio Bravo. Sort of.
I can’t lie, I was confused for a lot of the film and I think it deserves a second viewing but I’m definitely warming to it after having a few hours to think about it. It is by no means perfect but is clever and took me by surprise plus the whole cast are working in sync to deliver fantastic performances.