catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 21 :: 2008.11.21 — 2008.12.05


High school drama

Rian Johnson’s first film as a director indicates a promising future for this one-time television dramatist.  Brick is a prototypical film noir detective story with twists and turns, dark corners and caverns, that wrap the characters and viewer in an increasingly complicated scenario.  Nothing new, really, as film noir goes, but what makes this fresh is that all of it takes place in high school. 

The humorous tone that is sustained in the midst of escalating violence is accentuated because the characters involved in the seedy underworld of drugs and crime are typical suburban teenagers who fear the wrath of their parents, who dread being sent to the vice principal’s office, who mark off their territory in the lunch room.  In one hilarious scene, the kingpin of what appears to be an influential drug cartel waxes rhapsodic about Tolkien’s “Hobbit books.”  All the major types of the American high school are on display, which makes Brick one of the best commentaries on teenage youth culture since Rebel Without a Cause

Fans of David Lynch may also enjoy the use of sound and cinematic spaces, and some very Lynchian themes of suburbia’s underground.  I was surprised I had never heard of this 2005 release because it is so good.  One can only hope that Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom and subsequent releases will point people in the direction of his first gem.  Brick is definitely a must-see and a must-tell-everyone-else-about-it movie. 

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