“Ask any dope rat where their junk sprang and they’ll say they scraped it from that, who scored it from this, who bought it off so, and after four or five connections the list always ends with The Pin. But I bet you, if you got every rat in town together and said “Show your hands” if any of them’ve actually seen The Pin, you’d get a crowd of full pockets.”
Here’s the rub with Brick: If you’re into the movie in the first five minutes, you’re in for good. If not, you won’t buy it. Rian Johnson (director and writer) made what is essentially an homage to detective stories and film noir set in a high school. The meat of the film is in the words and if the words aren’t grabbing you or sound funnily discordant, then you won’t be a very happy camper.
Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt) is a loner whose girlfriend Emily calls him in a panic from a payphone. She spits out words that make little sense to Brendan. When she goes missing and then later turns up dead, Brendan doggedly pursues the truth of what happened to Emily, no matter what the cost.
Brick is a detective story set in an unconventional place. The fact that the main characters are high school kids in a high school at times can feel off-kilter and odd, but Rian Johnson’s writing is the real star of the show. It’s smart, keen writing that is something new and something old all at the same time. The writing wouldn’t be much without someone to carry it off and Joseph Gordon Leavitt does a remarkable job of making Brendan Frye relatable while delivering lines that feel more at home in something made in the ’30’s. The supporting cast are good but Gordon Leavitt is really who the film is hanging its hat on, so to speak, and he does a terrific job.
Multiple threads of the plot are interwoven and twisted about while a merry-go-round of high school degenerates float in and out of the picture; all threads meet nicely at the end when Brendan solves the mystery at hand. Brick is more than just a mystery film. It’s at times heart-breaking and saddening and at others, it’s darkly funny. Combine this with a haunting, original soundtrack and you have one hell of a movie.
Worth your time to Netflix, folks.