One of the things I love most about recommending movies to people is when I have the chance to talk about a film that is more obscure, but is fantastic. Reviewing well known movies is okay, but in the end, it just amounts to throwing my opinion into the general mix. Everyone’s heard of the film, and so sure, someone might be interested to hear my take on it, but my review won’t bring anything truly unknown to light.
Not so with Brick, a great little gem that I’m betting the majority of you have never heard of. It barely broke $2 million at the box office, after all. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it basically takes a classic noir movie like The Big Sleep and transplants it into a modern day high school, leaving everything else the same. The character mannerisms are those of noir characters–just being played by teenagers. The dialogue is noir dialogue–spoken by teenagers. Really, this feels like a grown up non-musical version of Bugsy Malone. But cooler. And I think that’s likely where the movie didn’t work for some people. For the first fifteen minutes or so, I wasn’t liking the film at all. The teens weren’t acting like teens, after all. They didn’t sound like them, they took themselves way too seriously–nothing felt “right.”
But then I realized what was going on–that the stilted dialogue and characterizations were on purpose. That this was an extreme adaptation of a noir film. And as soon as I made that mind shift, I loved the movie. Great acting, great cinematography, great mood, great story. Really well done, and I’m going to go ahead and give it four stars. It’s rated R, but I have no idea why. Yes, there’s a violent death, but you can see it coming in advance, and the gore lasts for all of a half second. Close your eyes, count to one, and you’re done. No hard profanity, no sex. Just a good plot, great characters, and the enjoyment of watching a fascinating adaptation approach, all at the same time.