Jan 9, 2007

Brick (2005): C+

Brick exemplifies the difference between a cinematic talent show and mere karaoke. In an admittedly unique move, the film transplants classic film noir conventions into the more seemingly untainted setting of a modern American suburban high school. Flattery may be the most sincere form of praise, but here the catch comes with the fact that it does so without any sense of moral quandary – it’s rhythmic imitation is impressive, but it yearns for soul beneath all the visual pizzazz and hard-boiled dialogue. Rather than extending this genre-transplanting concept in such a way as to examine the strains that develop between the various social factions already existing within the tumultuous high school habitat (itself an intense social nesting ground for many an American adolescent, myself speaking from long-valued experience), it simply assigns the types of goth, loner, jock and nerd to their appropriate noir counterparts (as good as the acting is across the board, nobody here has the opportunity to play anything other than character types). When Brendan’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) ex Emily (Emilie de Ravin) goes over her head into a drug-laden underworld, he optimizes his personal connections and cunning wit to find out what happened to her and why, to predictably mixed Chinatown-esque results of resistance and cooperation. It’s audio visual synchronization is regularly spot-on when it comes to replicating the trademarks of its source material, but Brick quickly takes on the aura of a production bent on completing a checklist of genre clich├ęs more so than digging into the soul of those very trademarks. Often absorbing but never more than first-class mimicry, Brick exists primarily as a reassuring pop quiz for film majors, which is to say it’s aesthetic only goes skin deep.


  1. I remember recommending this to you almost non-stop on the Slant Forum. It's almost a disappointment you didn't like it as much as I did. Of course the mimicry argument is potent if a little weak in its considering mimicry is almost a given in films these days. And you can't tell me it's bad to mimic great films like Chinatown. And I also liked how refreshing Brick was in its seriousness, why with films like Eurotrip and Hostel spewing filth on their audiences, the seriousness of Brick, if overt, is still welcome.

    Anyways, I reallllllly like this blog. I'll comment some other posts. Don't stop writing

  2. I really wanted to like Brick, and in case it wasn't communicated well enough in my review, let me say that I do have a fond, if muted, affection for it. Whenever I felt it really had something going for it, it's emotions felt like they hit a brick wall.