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Rian Johnson's dazzling, original debut is the rare film that manages to deliver nuanced feeling using a quirky, postmodern conceit. Set at a contemporary California high school, the film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin) as a resourceful teen determined to solve his girlfriend''s murder. Shot in a moody daylight noir style, and featuring cryptic, hardboiled dialogue, the film follows its protagonist--a modern-day Continental Op--as he wades through a peer network as complex and insidious as the corrupt gangs in Red Harvest. "What begins as the most gimmicky sor t of genre retread somehow evolves into that most elusive of films: a personal Rian Johnson---USA---2006---110 mins.

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