Newcomer Rian Johnson's first feature Brick is a modern film noir, set in a small-town American high school. The plot revolves around mysterious loner Brendan Frye and his attempts to discover the events that led to the death of Emily, his ex-girlfriend.
Brick was submitted for classification in February 2006 and was released on May 12. The defining classification issues were violence and drug references.
The violence is mostly hand-to-hand combat and hefty, convincing punches are landed on the main character's face repeatedly as he deals with a gang of bullying thugs. Although the scenes of violence are shot so that contact is rarely seen, there is still a very strong impression of meaty impact, enhanced by the realistic sound effects. The viewer really feels that he is being beaten up and the character is left staggering around with a cut and bruised face, in agony from the seemingly endless pummelling.
BBFC Guidelines at the time for the 15 category stated that 'violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain and injury' and these scenes fall within this guideline. The 15 category is confirmed by a shooting towards the end of the film. The impact is seen in profile and a large blood spurt issues from the back of the victim's head as the bullet exits; a small cloud of smoke hovers just by the exit wound. It is carefully shot, so there is no focus on the aftermath, but examiners felt it is still strong enough to warrant a 15.
As much of the film's plot revolves around the 'brick' of drugs referred to in the title, there are understandably frequent verbal references to drug dealers, drug use, cutting of drugs and 'dosing'.
There is nothing instructional in any of these references, with even a discussion about cutting heroin with laundry chemicals oblique enough to offer nothing informative. However, drug references come thick and fast once the theme has been established. We see very occasional glimpses of a druggie character and his 'hash head' friends smoking joints but that is the only drug use actually seen.
BBFC Guidelines at 15 state that 'drug taking may be shown but the film as a whole must not promote or encourage drug use.' The message conveyed by this film is that drug-dealing and drug use result in very serious consequences, so acts as a warning against involvement in drugs. Examiners therefore felt the references were able to be passed at 15.
The BBFCinsight for Brick reads 'Contains strong violence and drug references'.
Brick was also passed 15 on video and chosen as part of National Schools Film Week 2007.