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Postmodern Pastiche

by Isaac Rooks

Dr. Casper lists pastiche as one of the defining qualities of postmodern film. This is distinct from modernist intertextuality, which involves strategic and selective allusions that add meaning. With pastiche, the point is the reference. Brick is a neo-noir detective thriller where the whole film is a pastiche. It lifts the tropes of classical hardboiled detective thrillers and places them in an unlikely setting: a contemporary Southern California high school, where a teenager investigates the disappearance and then murder of his ex-girlfriend. This excerpt gives a sense of the film's unusual quality. One can recognize familiar archetypes: the detective, the informant, the femme fatale. There are expected conventions - the interrogation, collective evidence. The dialogue is an iconic aural callback, an unnaturally rapid back-and-forth. All this is done in a very straight-faced manner; our hero isn't consciously imitating Humphrey Bogart, he just happens to be Sam Spade in a teenager's body. The film never explains this to you - as an audience member you are expected to be film literate enough to recognize these things and appreciate the novelty of the presentation.

Brick - Pastiche

The classic hardboiled detective thriller relocates to a Southern California high school.

from Brick (2006)
Creator: Rian Johnson
Distributor: Focus Features
Posted by Isaac Rooks