A tough-talking teen attempts to uncover his ex-girlfriend's killer in director Rian Johnson's hard-boiled high-school noir, told in the style of a Dashiell Hammett mystery. An outsider by nature, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is forced to penetrate the elaborate ranks of the high-school social scene and its more insidious underbelly when the body of his former girlfriend Emily is found lying lifeless in a remote creek. Though the pair had been on the outs, Brendan can't seem to shake the hysterical phone call that he received from Emily the day before her body was discovered, a call in which she rattled off a number of cryptic words: "brick," "pin," "tug," "poor Frisco." He's determined to find the guilty party, and to do that he'll need to uncover the meaning behind her enigmatic phone call. From the highest-ranking athlete to the lowest-level burnout, no one is above suspicion of leaving her in that creek or putting her in the position to end up there. Brendan's skill for getting the right attention from the right people leads him to a local drug dealer of urban-legendary status (Lukas Haas), who walks with a cane and lives with his mother. As Brendan infiltrates the social and political web more deeply, his theory solidifies and each player's role becomes clear, from the shifty-eyed pot slinger to an upper-crust innocent who may well be a femme fatale. Brendan may soon be ready to make his case, even if it's too late for him to get out.
by Jason Buchanan synopsis