Friday, 20 August 2010

Maybe I'll Just Sit Here And Bleed At You.

I think I made it quite clear here that I am in love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and shall gladly have his babies should the need arise. So, back when Brick released in 2006 in Australia, but a year after I'd rediscovered him in all his glory in Mysterious Skin, it should be no surprise that I was right there waiting. It didn't hurt that the film came with a fair amount of buzz as an acclaimed debut by Rian Johnson, neo-noir, winner of a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for originality of vision. One is entitled to have some degree of expectation when confronted with this information.

Gordon-Levitt plays Brendan, a high schooler caught up in a world of drugs, death and intrigue. With word-play the name of the game in Johnson's inventive screenplay, the story moves along at a cracking pace as Brendan uses his friend The Brain (Matt O'Leary) to decode a cryptic phone call from ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin), leading him towards the clutches of Laura (Nora Zehetner) and into the world of The Pin (Lukas Haas.) Striking a deal with the assistant vice-principal to provide inside information gives him some degree of freedom of movement and ability to break the rules with immunity, allowing him deep inside the juvenile crime world run by The Pin (whose mother is all too happy to serve up milk and cookies to bleeding boys sitting at his table) in order that he may discover who is responsible for the body of Emily found in a drain.

Johnson's winning formula in Brick takes the tried and tested film noir idea and transplants it into the world of adolescents. The seriousness of the performance is tempered by the comedy of the situation - seriously, guys, you're at school. Yes, someone has died, but I'm fairly certain there is little you can do. But it works, because of Johnson's ability to bring it all together, to make you believe, with his words and his characters. And to think he made this on less than USD$500,000 is incredible - I just found this out, and I'm fairly gobsmacked.

Huge credit has to go to Johnson. He really did make this all work, and very, very well. Nathan Johnson (Rian's brother) scored the film, his first scoring effort, apparently achieving the majority over iChat whilst he was in London. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin did a stellar job, especially considering the constraints having absolutely no money can put on someone in that role. A cast and crew with experience ranging from much to not much at all combined under Johnson to make something quite unique, and very entertaining. Definitely a recommended watch. 4 stars.

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