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Brick, while taking its cues and its verbal style from the novels of Dashiell Hammett, also honors the rich cinematic tradition of the hard-boiled noir mystery, here wittily and bracingly immersed in fresh territory – a modern-day Southern California neighborhood and high school. There, student Brendan Frye’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) piercing intelligence spares no one. Brendan is not afraid to back up his words with actions, and knows all the angles; yet he prefers to stay an outsider, and does – until the day that his ex-girlfriend, Emily (Emilie de Ravin of Lost), reaches out to him unexpectedly and then vanishes. Brendan’s feelings for her still run deep; so much so, that he becomes consumed with finding his troubled inamorata.
To find her, Brendan enlists the aid of his only true peer, The Brain (Matt O’Leary), while keeping the assistant vice principal (Richard Roundtree) only occasionally informed of what quickly becomes a dangerous investigation. Brendan’s single-minded unearthing of students’ secrets thrusts him headlong into the colliding social orbits of rich-girl sophisticate Laura (Nora Zehetner), intimidating Tugger (Noah Fleiss), substance-abusing Dode (Noah Segan), seductive Kara (Meagan Good), jock Brad (Brian White) and – most ominously – non-student The Pin (Lukas Haas). It is only by gaining acceptance into The Pin’s closely guarded inner circle of crime and punishment that Brendan will be able to uncover hard truths about himself, Emily and the suspects that he is getting closer to.
This is not director Rian Johnson's first movie, it's just Rian's first one to get any attention. With a movie title like Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!! on Johnson's past resume, I'd say it's about time. Any movie worth three exclamation points it has to be good.
But I'm a sucker for noir, so evil demon golfballs or no Brick is shaping up to be one of the year's coolest looking Indies. I'm not sure how I feel about that kid from "Third Rock" as a lead, but I feel pretty good about any movie with a character called "The Pin".
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