Brick

Claire from Lost gets lost and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (currently MIA from acting) tracks her down in Rian Johnson’s debut feature.

I’ve seen this film three times and still have no idea what happens, and I really don’t care because it’s that good. Wilfully impenetrable but endlessly watchable, Brick is singular in its vision and controlled in its execution. Every aspect is so deliberate: the unique linguistic subversion, dead suburban landscapes and tunnel-vision storytelling. It’s stylised but substantive; bold but understated; high school noir but not Veronica Mars.

So assured is Johnson’s tone that you immediately understand what he’s doing without ever seeing where the movie’s going, taking itself seriously while playing with the genre and blurring its edges. It also looks and sounds great, Nathan Johnson’s atmospheric score pausing only for the pounding of shoes on concrete.

Gordon-Levitt carries the movie confidently, never removing his hands from his coat pockets nor his glasses (other than when he’s getting punched in the face). Lukas Haas (Boys) is similarly memorable as The Pin, a local drug baron (“Old, like 26”) who’s lit like Colonel Kurtz and provides the film’s darkest and funniest moments from the confines of his mum’s house.

This is neo-noir at its coolest and smartest, and it makes you realise what an odd (albeit refreshing) choice of Star Wars director Johnson was given his clear fondness for subverting genre. No wonder the fanboys came down on him like a ton of bricks.

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