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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: There are multiple ways to read everybody. For starters, was Laura telling the truth when she said that Brendan was the father of Emily's child?
  • Awesome Music: It's an odd example, but there's something deeply thrilling about Laura's calm, self-assured recitation of "The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze."
  • He Really Can Act: This film was a strong push in Levitt's efforts to move beyond his sitcom heritage and into the realm of serious, edgy film roles.
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  • Narm: Some people just can't get on board the concept of a noir set in a high school. The dialogue can be a problem too; hearing teenagers talk like 1940s detective novel characters is really jarring, and the acting often isn't good enough to sell the juxtaposition.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "Nine out of ten". Laura tells Brendan that Emily's baby was his.
    • The moment when Brendan finally cracks, after so long of being The Stoic. No subdued weeping or single tears here; just full-on, helpless, body-shaking sobbing while Laura holds him.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: Sure, Emily is Brendan's Lost Lenore, but she still left him because he didn't want her cozying up to drug dealers. After their break-up she apparently dives headfirst into the school's underbelly, doing drugs, making friends with sinister characters, and trying to sleep her way to the top, all simply because she's desperate to be popular. Even after she comes back into his life uninvited, begging for help, she still changes her mind and tells him to back off. After all that, he still tries to help her (and avenge her death when he can't).
  • The Woobie:
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    • Even before Emily dies, she's terrified, over her head, and without anyone she really trusts.
    • Dode died believing the girl he loved and protected had been killed by her ex while pregnant with Dode's child, and it turns out the kid probably wasn't his.
    • Brendan is more of a Jerkass Woobie, between his treatment of Emily and Kara, his cruelty to Dode, and leaving the Pin to die, but he gets put through the wringer.
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