Brick purports to be a film noir high school murder mystery. This it is; it is not, however, twice as good as, say, Clueless and The Big Sleep (not that I’ve seen that, but I’ll bet it’s at least as good as Clueless – there’s a safe bet if ever there were one).

The lead has a lot to answer for. Perhaps it’s typical for a film noir “hero” to appear superficially unaffected by events surrounding him but even this hero’s interactions with others fail to construct an interesting, deeper, picture of his character. The audience is thrown in at the deep end; within five minutes of the opening credits this guy is making deals, playing other characters off each other and, the most satisying part of the film, acting as a double agent for the school authorities.

I felt that we never really know who he is and that, more importantly, without any context or hint of a life beyond this film we never really care. It’s as if he exists only the purposes of this film and then pops out of existence immediately after the closing shot.

The worst and most annoying aspect of the film is not the lead, however, but rather the dialogue. The fish out of water dialogue experiment can work, as Romeo + Juliet proved, but here the lines are delivered lazily and without any intensity.

The saving grace of the film is how it occasionally pokes fun at how the characters are really just school kids: once separated from their “moms” and the school vice-principal they are written as adults. The dialogue, however, ruins this amusing conceit: even in “adult mode” it still sounds delivered by children.

The film overall is a mixture of two styles which, although muddled, is worth seeing but not terribly memorable.