I borrowed Brick from a friend a while back on the basis that (a) it was a film noir, and I tend to quite enjoy film noirs, and (b) it starred Tommy from Third Rock From The Sun, who for no particular reason we seem to mention on the podcast almost every week. Therefore, when Official Listener Conor serendipitously recommended Brick to us, it seemed like the perfect excuse to sit down and finally watch the DVD. Unfortunately, however, we didn’t think it was very good.
Setting a traditional film noir in the confines of a high school is a bold and interesting move, but the high school setting is barely even acknowledged, which seems like a wasted opportunity. There are no scenes in the actual high school itself – it’s mostly set in car parks and playing fields – and there’s no attempt to explain why the characters all speak like world-weary 40-somethings from a Philip Marlowe novel, despite the fact they’re meant to be teenagers. Because of this, I found it impossible to take the leap of faith necessary to really believe in the characters – perhaps if there was more of a recognition of the fact that the characters are not behaving in a ‘normal’ way for teenagers, it might have been easier to take the leap. The scene in which one of the character’s parents fixes milk and cookies while they talk of drug deals is perhaps the only example where this disconnect is referenced, but it stands out like a sore thumb in a film that otherwise takes itself deadly seriously. If there was more recognition of the distance between the ‘real’ world and the world of murder and intrigue that the characters inhabit, the conceit of the high school setting might have been more successful.
More damning though is the frankly irritating mumbling of the actors. Even with the sound turned up it was almost impossible to make out what the characters were saying, and we even tried to turn on the subtitles at one point, only to discover that Brick is possibly the only DVD manufactured in the past 20 years that doesn’t have subtitles on the disc. Another black mark against its name.
So we were faced with a bit of a problem: neither of us really wanted to do a podcast on a film we weren’t keen on, and nor did we want to rubbish the recommendation of a listener – we need all the listeners we can get, after all. We contemplated reviewing another film instead, but we didn’t have enough time to watch something else, and we even considered missing out this week’s podcast entirely. In the end though, the name is ‘101 Films You Should Have Seen… Probably‘, not ‘Definitely‘, so I guess the odd blip is allowed.
And it’s not all bad of course. The cinematography of Brick is fantastic, with some brilliant shots reminiscent of Chinatown and The Maltese Falcon, and the plot, if you can take the leap of faith necessary, is classic hard-boiled noir. And it’s got Tommy from Third Rock From The Sun in it, of course.
So apologies to Conor for the moaning (we love your other film recommendations by the way), but here we present Podcast 26 for your consideration:
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Director: Rian Johnson Year of release: 2005 Studio/Distributor: Bergman Lustig Productions Country: USA