Is this the line for the Rian Johnson bandwagon? If so, I want on. The young director’s first feature, Brick, is an often brilliant film made all the more amazing by the fact that it just should not, in any rational world, work at all. Johnson has married the plot structure, characters and dialogue of a noir film with the setting and youth of a high school movie. It sounds like a gimmick, the sort of conceit that the film and the audience would tire of before the end, but it almost never feels like a stunt, and while Johnson is essentially doing a plate spinning routine, you don’t care so much about the trick of making the plates spin as how beautiful they look there.

The plot has to do with a murder and a drug dealer and a missing brick of heroin and betrayed love and teenage angst. Like any noir, it’s impossible to accurately summarize the story of Brick without spending paragraph upon paragraph talking about every plot twist and switch and turn.