Genre: Drama / Mystery
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emilie de Ravin, Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner
Brick combines neo-noir and high school genres through dialogue, cinematography, and repetition of specific scenes from [film noir] classics. In case the gap between modern high school students and the film noir heroes of the 1940s and 50s is too big of a jump, Johnson ages his characters through classic language and non-traditional dress.Brick’s cinematography is very reminiscent of classic noir regarding the use of light and photographic angles, but the color has more in common with American Beauty than other neo-noir films like Chinatown.
Stylistically, the most apparent of its film noir references surfaces by way of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks TV series. This is portrayed using themes of a dead high school teen, an exploration of the sinister underbelly of a small town, clues revealed through dreams or even visual references to the ceiling fan etc.
The dialogue of the film draws as its source detective slang of the 1930s (or ripped out of a Dashiell Hammett novel). This is not ironic, rather it is a serious, straightfaced style integral to the film’s aesthetic. Despite being set in the present day (viz. the presence of cell phones, Rubik’s Cubes, etc.), this method of conversing is presented as a normal mode of speech. At some viewings of the movie, a small pamphlet was available which explained the slang used in the movie. In addition, the “ripped paper” series of movie posters feature a line of dialogue from the film which takes advantage of it. In spite of its Californian high school setting, the characters of Brick wear a mix of modern teenage and classic noir clothing. This is most apparent in the shoes of the characters and may be used to bring back the feeling of classic noir (the shoes tend to be highlighted during particularly noir moments) or to age the characters.
Watch the trailer