Gordon-Levitt plays the lead role in this neo-noir directorial debut of Rian Johnson. playing Brendan Frye, a high school student living in suburban California. He discovers his ex-girlfriend’s dead body in a drainage ditch shortly after getting an urgent phone call from her asking for help. He proceeds to investigate her death, which leads him to dangerous secrets involving drugs and crime. On his character:
He thinks—he looks around at the world and sees it as a corrupt, petty, no-good affair. And then when he loses his one love—his one thing in the world that he does connect to—Emily—when he loses her to that, it really, really sends him to the back of the school and to just hunch over and harden up.