Saturday, January 4, 2014

Brick -- Mini-review: love as motivation

Director: Rian Johnson, 2005 (R)

When Brandon (a young-looking Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Looper which was also directed by Johnson) finds his ex-girlfriend Emily dead on the concrete bank of a sewer tunnel, he wants to find out who did it and why. He remembers a mysterious phone call he received from her two days prior in which the words "pin," "brick," "tug," and "poor frisco" occurred and seem to carry the key to his problem.

Brick has all the elements of a noir mystery but with a twist. There is hardly an adult among the cast. This is a high-school mystery, with all the main characters being teens, either in school or drop-outs. Their world is a microcosm of the real world, but with a criminal underbelly that juxtaposes with literature class.

Brandon is an outsider. He eats lunch alone, does not mix with the typical high school groups. Not a jock nor a nerd, he survives on his wits not his friends. His lone buddy is Brain (Matt O'Leary), who acts as his side-kick while avoiding any of the violence. But to get to the bottom of Em's disappearance and subsequent murder, Brandon must navigate the murky waters of high school society. From exclusive parties to jaded junkies, Brandon puts his body in the way and his life on the line to solve the mystery.

Along the way he encounters a femme fatale who wants to help him, but who might be a player working him, a teenage gang leader whose chief lieutenant wants to run his own gang, and a drug scheme gone bad.

As a noir, there seems little of redeemable value her. Yet, Brandon's motivation holds the answer. "You're the only thing I love," he tells Emily." And in another scene, the femme fatale tells Brandon that she recognizes the love that is driving him (and wants it). Love can make a loner join a gang, can turn a loser  into a winner, can make a man turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39) or keep coming back when punched in the face (one scene highlights this with Brandon repeatedly being hit to the ground but getting up to take another one until the fighter accepts what Brandon wants). Love may not be kind to Brandon (1 Cor. 13:4), but it never fails (1 Cor. 13:8). Love conquers all and comes up with the answers to the mystery. Love is indeed the best motivation.

Copyright ©2014, Martin Baggs

No comments:

Post a Comment