Classic Brick

I finally got around to seeing “Brick”, Rian Johnson’s awesome post-modern film noir from 2005. The execution of the film is brilliant, but the premise is very simple: “Suppose a 1940’s hardboiled detective story were set in a modern suburban high school?”

This film is able to work so well because it does not condescend. It treats the premise and the characters with utter seriousness, carefully transposing all of the noir character archetypes, relationships and dramatic conventions to this new setting. The clever and inventive camera work and editing are also entirely consistent with the tropes of noir. I didn’t detect a single moment when the film winked at the audience.

I wonder whether this is the key to updating a traditional genre: Rather than merely using it as source material, go deep and understand what really makes the genre tick, and respect its conventions.

After all, there’s a reason that classic genres are classic.

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