I wanted to like this movie but didn't expect I would. In all ways this simply should not have worked; a noir with tough lingo and twisting plots set in modern day high school. But maybe the two concepts aren't as at odds as you'd think. I mean, what time in anyone's life is more full of intrigue, drama, brutality, infidelity, and obsession than high school? And what better genre to encompass all those elements?
It still doesn't explain how writer/director Rian Johnson was able to pull this movie off. It manages the delicate balance between taking itself too seriously and being a tongue in cheek joke with grace. There are certainly times I laughed, the scene with the VP “I'll see you at the Parent teacher conference” is one of them. But the laughs are intentional and so are the thrills.
Like most noirs, the most exciting part is the middle when you're never sure who is who or what is what and this is no exception. The film moves through its twists and turns at a breakneck speed, giving you no time to notice that by all definition, this should be an absurd, unintentionally laughable, failed experiment. But it is not.