Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Brick (2005)

Billed as a neo-noir film, but in reality it's just a noir film shot with a colour camera in a high school. Maybe that's enough to make it technically an evolution on the genre, but is certainly doesn't feel like it.

Brick is a weird one, in that the premise is essentially a parody but it's played completely straight and is meant to be taken as such. In one of his later years at highschool, Brendan gets a panicked phonecall from his recently ex girlfiend begging for his help. Soon after he finds her dead and vows to track down and punish those responsible. Cue Brendan delving deep into the underworld of the local drug scene, complete with an enigmatic bohemian-paris chic girl, a strange mastermind and the dumb muscle.

It follows all the noir genre mainstays. Brendan is a cold and calculating person who won't take no for an answer and is willing to get his hands dirty to find out who murdered his girl. He goes around the town, or rather, the school hitting up everyone he can for information, including the stereotypical burlesque imitator character, and even has his own police captain to throw his badge at in the form of the vice principal. The film's quite schizophrenic about how it handles being a murder-narcotic mystery set in a place where everyone is under eighteen. At one turn you've got people who are essentially children running around playing detective and not calling the cops when there are goddamn dead bodies all over the shop, which I can buy into if you play it completely straight (it's just a different backdrop for a classic story, gotcha!). But then you get jokes highlighting that the premise is crazy; instead of the genre mainstay of "You know what bar I'll be at" or "You know where my office is" you get a line about "You know what table I eat lunch at".  It's taking the piss out of itself, but only in tiny snippets amongst all the machismo and "grr we're being gritty" attitude, and it doesn't really mesh.

If you can buy into the premise and resist shouting "Why has nobody called the fucking police yet?!" every five minutes, Brick will deliver in spades. It's probably the best produced neo-noir film of the past few years, second only to Drive (which I actually liked).

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