I love the idea of this movie - a modern day film noir set in a high school. I like the feel of it too. It is quite strange and feels realistic in its own made up universe kind of way. I like how the main character (trying to figure out a murder) keeps getting the shit kicked out of him. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, the guy who played the blonde lunkhead, and Nora Zehetner (from Heroes fame).
But, wow, was this film way too long. It felt like a 30 minute film school project fleshed out into a two hour feature. It just kept going and going and going. And it was quite confusing. But not confusing in a way that I really care to go back and understand every little nuance like I did after first seeing films like Miller's Crossing or Mulholland Drive.
SHR described it as a high school acting troupe trying to put on a performance of Twin Peaks. It had some elements of Heathers and the 1990 B-movie Blood and Concrete to it. This is a very promising and unique first film from Rian Johnson but not one of the year's best like some would have you believe.
Director: Rian Johnson