BRICK REVIEW: Joseph Gordon Levitt & 20s gangster slang


Maybe two years ago, I watched Brick (2005, directed by Rian Johnson and winner of the Sundance special Jury prize) for the first time when my friend’s brother recommended it because I said Donnie Darko was my favourite movie. I remember being thoroughly confused, but thinking it was super cool all the same. After that, I completely forgot about it until about three weeks ago. Recently, I’ve been going through Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s back catalogue (WOULD RECOMMEND: mysterious skin, Hesher and Manic) and I came across Brick. Around the time I first watched it I didn’t really know who Joseph Gordon-Levitt was (a crime surely??) so, upon discovering he played the lead, I decided to re-watch it.

I remember the movie being cool, but oh man it is SO freaking cool. Joseph plays Brendon Frye a witty outcast who is forced into his neighbourhood’s twisted drug ring in search of his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin) after she calls him in a state of hysteria. Brendon is acted terrifically and I’m not just saying that, it’s totally believable and effortless (trying very hard not to use the word cool again).
Although I loved the movie, still found it fairly difficult to follow, you definitely need to concentrate on what’s being said not just the action. This is because Brendon talks predominately in old-school (we’re talking 20/30’s) gangster slang. This makes the film all the more interesting and fast-paced. A few of my favourite lines include: “Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I’ve got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you.”, “Maybe I’ll just sit here and bleed at you” and “Ask any dope rat where their junk sprang and they’ll say they scraped it from that, who scored it from this, who bought it off so, and after four or five connections the list always ends with  The Pin. But I bet you, if you got every rat in town together and said, “Show your hands,” if any of them’ve actually seen The Pin. You’d get a crowd of full pockets.”

Every character is captivating and would make an engaging protagonist in their own right; from the sophisticated femme fatale Laura (Nora Zehetner) to the infamous Pin (Lukas Haas) himself. Brick boasts a killer soundtrack, which I have since downloaded, that complements the cinematography perfectly.

But it doesn’t end there, after having watched it I went in search of whatever the film was based on and, on IMDB, I found a link to the writer/director’s site, as well as a much needed list of definitions of all the slang used in the movie. On Rian Johnson’s website there’s a free download to the annotated script and illustrated novella available to anyone interested.


Brick is neo-noir, hazy adolescence and gritty, sophisticated mystery all wrapped up in nostalgia or a longing for nostalgia and I wish it would last forever; all movies should be like this I just wish I’d written it first.

Link to Rian Johnson’s site

By Joey

2 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.