“Mathematically, it’s a percentage of your life. Four years, 48 months, 1,461 days. High school is prom, football games, boyfriends, girlfriends, party at the rich kid’s house. Fun, simple, wholesome. But it’s really anything but. High school might be the least wholesome four years of your life. And there’s nothing simple about it. High school is ugly, hard, and complicated. As complicated as a conspiracy to assassinate the president.” – Bobby Funke (voice over), Assassination of a High School President
I almost went with the last line from this same film – “Forget it, Funke. It’s high school.” because of the funny nod to
Chinatown, but I decided I needed something a little more serious for my beginning quote.
Back in 2005 the movie Brick came out. It starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a high schooler trying to solve the murder of a former girlfriend. People hadn’t really seen anything quite like it before. Much like films had been translating classic literature to a high school setting (i.e. Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew became 10 Things I Hate About You), someone finally translated the conventions of film noir’s hard-boiled detective stories to a high school setting.
There is a large segment of the adult population that will not watch an animated movie because they think they are “just for kids”. Many adults will not watch anything with a teen protagonist for the same reason. Combine that with an R rating, which movie theaters have been strongly enforcing in the last decade or so, and this limited the audience for this film, despite the fact that it won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Because of this I thought this kind of movie might be a one-off, but it was followed in 2007 by Cherry Crush and in 2008 by Assassination of a High School President. While neither of these were as deep into the noir conventions as Brick, it seems likely that they were inspired by it.
I will be reviewing all three of these films. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other movies that I would classify as “teen noir”. River’s Edge and Mean Creek involve teens and a dead body, but do not have the noir conventions. If you can think of any other films, please let me know.
As I post the reviews, I will come back and post the links to them here:
On to the reviews…