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Brick (DVD)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun), Nora Zehetner (Heroes) & Lukas Haas (Witness - he's grown somewhat, though).

Rated: 15.

Story: Brendan (Gordon-Levitt), a loner at a Californian high school, discovers the body of his ex-girlfriend lying in a ditch and sets out to discover who is responsible. During his investigation, he has to gain respect with the factions within the school, ingratiate himself with the local drug kingpin and placate the assistant vice-principal. He does so using a mixture of charm, cleverness and violence.

Comments: Sometimes I think LOVEFiLM sneak extra movies onto my rental list when I'm not looking. Every so often, a film turns up in the post that I know nothing about and I can't remember choosing. Then again, I still can't recall 2003, so my memory's probably not be trusted. Maybe I just went down the Top 50 rental list in a hurry one day, clicking on any old thing that sounded half decent from its single sentence description. I should really stop doing that. (Highlander - The Source, anyone?) Thankfully, this time, it's thrown up something interesting.

Brick is film noir - think Humphrey Bogart in a trenchcoat, Marlene Dietrich smoking and lots of prodding the dark underbelly of society at night. Rather than aping the visual style of these movies, however, Brick takes the plot and characters and transplants them to a modern high school. There's a hard-nosed investigator, a femme fatale, tough guys, schemers and a ruthless, intellectual criminal boss. There's also a mystery to be solved and no one is quite who they seem.

As such, a certain level of suspension of disbelief is required. The dubious and bizarre goings-on in a seemingly normal town make it feel like Twin Peaks at times, and there are a few unlikely moments that are down to the difficulty of shoe-horning the genre into the high school setting. For instance, Brendan has to hide the body in order to ensure he gets to investigate without interference from the cops. Has he never seen an episode of CSI? Also, the minuscule budget leads to some fairly barren locations. The school, in particular, is permanently deserted. This adds to the atmosphere but detracts from the realism.

The acting is excellent, though, and the editing is slick and assured. The plot requires some concentration to follow but remains intriguing throughout.

Conclusion: A brooding thriller that will suck you in if you give it a chance.

Explosions: None.
Fast talking: Lots.
Teenage angst: Plenty.
People pretending to be teenagers: Several.
Actual teenagers: Almost certainly none.
Scenes stolen by a table lamp: One.

Rating: 4/5.

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