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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Brick': The Beguiling Tale of a High School Loner's Immersion into the Criminal Underworld

Movie poster for Brick (2005)

Brick (2005) is an innovative and beguiling neo-noir thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan, a lonesome high school student in search of his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin). After receiving a desperate call from Emily begging for help before disappearing, Brendan sets off to locate his former flame, now dangerously enmeshed in Southern California's criminal underworld.

Working with fleeting clues from Emily's call, Brendan's investigation soon leads to the discovery of her dead body—the aggrieved Brendan choosing to hide her remains in order to avoid police involvement. Instead he launches on a fervent campaign to identify her murderer, his efforts drawing in close friend Brain (Matt O'Leary), Emily's drug-addled boyfriend Dode (Noah Segan), upper-class vixen Laura (Nora Zehetner), hardened enforcer Tug (Noah Fleiss) and drug kingpin "The Pin" (Lukas Haas). Ultimately aligning himself with The Pin as a covert operative, Brendan learns that the mystery over Emily's death is tied to a brick of heroin gone missing from The Pin's supply—Emily being the chief suspect in its furtive disappearance.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Knives Out) in his feature film debut, Brick is a unique and absorbing affair—Johnson delivering a neo-noir narrative in the vein of Dashiell Hammett's classic detective novels (i.e. The Maltese Falcon, Red Harvest). To wit, Johnson peppers the storyline with dubious characterizations, moral ambiguities and singular speech patterns for his assorted characters—boldly amalgamating teenage melodrama and hardboiled sensibilities to create a refreshingly offbeat whodunit for modern audiences.


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