Sunday, April 30, 2006

Updated Noir in a High School

by Rian Johnson

A common problem with many updated films noir is that they mistake the look and dialogue as the most important elements. While noir is about crime, it’s a genre that was formed out of the angst and uncertainty of post World War II America. Unlike other genres, the classic film noir was made as a crime thriller with largely european directors working in a visually stylized way within financial constraints. Updated film noir often substitutes surface for substance. But in Brick Rian Johnson treats the source material with respect and by setting the story in a high school he maintains the connection to the dark heart of film noir, which is existential dread. Instead of seeing the story unfold in the closed world of the criminal world, we see things within the insular world of high school. It works brilliantly and it’s a film that instantly has jumped onto my top ten list of films for 2006.

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