in Brick (2005)
Loner Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sets out to discover what led to the death of his troubled ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin). Assisted by his aptly named friend Brain (Matt O'Leary), Brendan descends into a harrowing subculture headed by quirky drug dealer "The Pin" (Lukas Haas in a Sidney Greenstreet turn), whose headquarters is his rec room (don't miss the scene in which The Pin's cheery mom serves Brendan apple juice and cornflakes after he has been beaten by The Pin's henchman, who is obviously based on Elijah Cook Jr.).
An intriguing character is Kara (Meagan Good), who spends her time in the drama club and thus suggests the double-crossing nightclub femme fatale (that is, always playing a role). Another highlight (albeit brief) is Richard Roundtree (best known as John Shaft in Shaft) as the vice principal, which seems to resemble Ward Bond's role in The Maltese Falcon.
Those well versed in the genre will be able to guess the perpetrator, but that does not diminish the touching, unwavering determination of Brendan to see that Emily is not forgotten, in the best tradition of the Chandleresque lone knight on the mean streets.
Brick is available on DVD. For other takes on the film:
• Bill Crider
• Roger Ebert
• Entertainment Weekly
• The Guardian
• Radio Times
• Rian Johnson talks about Brick in the Independent