Rian Johnson, USA 2005
Teenager Brendan’s ex-girlfriend has disappeared. Played by a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brendan of course sets out to investigate and quickly becomes drawn in to the nebulous underworld his high school harbours. Director Rian Johnson conjures up a mysterious world, filled with drugs, femmes fatales, grim conspiracies and – of course – teens aplenty. This sets the film somewhere between tough neo noir and typical high school drama, which was uncharted territory until Johnson came up with this unique perspective. This might have quickly grown stale in the making of a lesser director, yet Brick manages to remain surprising right up to the end. This is certainly thanks to Gordon-Levitt, who already manages to showcase his outstanding acting chops
Director Rian Johnson has since really risen in the rankings, thanks in part to this indie hit. His credits now include movies such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the utterly underrated Looper, while just this autumn Knives Out saw the light, widely acclaimed by critics. However, before he became a Hollywood big shot, he was making this gem. The budget was under $500,000, clearly showing that Johnson doesn’t really need all the usual pizazz that major productions involve. Brick is packed with innovative visual treats and surprising plot twists, a true cult classic for private eyes and Zienema screens.