10 May 2010

BRICK (Dir. Rian Johnson, 2005, US) - 'She called me a dirty word'

Sharp, breathless, sardonic and bristling with a plethora of creative ideas, Rian Johnson's 2005 debut Brick is a noir filled existential journey through the underbelly of the California suburbs. Inspired by the hard boiled traditions of the first and highly influential phase of noir, Brick's convoluted narrative, scheming femme fatale and intuitive youth sleuth in the form of the talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt offers a biting social commentary on youth culture. Whilst on the surface Rian Johnson's may have been working with familiar genre conventions, what makes this a particularly interesting entry in the catalogue of contemporary noir is the verbal sparring expressed through a cryptic dialect harking back to a post war literary cynicism. Both Huston's The Maltese Falcon and Altman's The Long Goodbye are the clearest noir influences on Johnson's film; the impressionable falcon perched on the Pin's desk is a strong iconographic link. With a denouement expertly staged on the seemingly overstated symbolism of the high school playing field, the film's vision of alienated youth makes for a compelling illustration of the American indie film.

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