Review: Slacker (1991)

I was definitely a slacker, probably still am, although not of the variety who wish to run their mother over with a car!

Written By: Richard Linklater
Directed By: Richard Linklater

It doesn’t matter what the characters in Slacker talk about. They are not there to provide entertainment to anyone watching, they are simply present to live out their lives. As the viewer we flit from conversation to conversation, some are incredibly interesting while others are so mundane that the camera quickly leaves those characters behind. Yet we still hear some of those conversations, and that’s why what is being said doesn’t really matter. Slacker is about the truth of conversation, the generation that has trouble finding anything to believe in, and the people that inhabit our world.

I don’t know if Austin, Texas has as many interesting people as Slacker intimates. What I do know is that the Austin we are presented in Slacker is a microcosm of the world at large, specifically the United States. Richard Linklater’s film is full of insecure people, those recovering from trauma, people without purpose, and more. None of them are truly slackers, that’s not the reason for the title, I don’t think. Rather, Slacker is the title of the movie because this is how those on the outside looking in who have made up their minds about the films characters will view said characters. Mr. Linklater throws in a few curveballs, such as the old man with the French relics who avoids a robbery. His character is older, he is not a member of the generation being highlighted and yet he possesses many of the same qualities of the young kids around him. This could be read as the youth infecting him, or it could be a case of disenchantment being present at all times in life. I choose to believe the latter, disenchantment is present across all walks of life, not just in the twenty somethings Mr. Linklater has chosen to build his film around.

While it is true that a lot of the conversations in Slacker sound pointless that does not mean they were without a point within the film itself. Some conversations are simple buffers, serving no purpose other than to get the film from character S to character T. They do serve a purpose though, that is important to keep in mind. The larger conversations are about issues that range from modestly personal to important on a larger scale. Every conversation sheds a different bit of truth about the world we live in and the people who inhabit our world. There are people out there just like those in Slacker, I’ve met, more than my fair share of them.

While these conversations are happening Mr. Linklater is present with his camera. He is the quiet observer, unless of course he is acting on screen like in the first scene. His camera intrudes upon every conversation, but it never feels like it doesn’t belong. That’s why it is so easy for Mr. Linklater to extricate his camera from every vignette. When the camera leaves one conversation it comes across as a part of the natural path that the camera is on. In many ways the camera represents the way people approach everyday existence, flowing from one moment to the next with whatever catches our fancy propelling us to our next destination.

A few of the conversations go overboard on the weirdness, but that is a very minor gripe. Slacker has the signature marks of a Richard Linklater film, or I should say the signature marks of a dialogue heavy Richard Linklater film. He fills Slacker with conversations about nothing, everything, and all that can come between those two poles. He does this in an interesting and spellbinding manner, never losing my attention for a second. In a day and age where the focus in so many films is on being fast and drawing the viewer in with visual tricks, Mr. Linklater does the opposite. He plays its slow with Slacker and he allows for the dialogue and the thoughts that spring from said dialogue to mesmerize the viewer. Slacker is yet another winner from Richard Linklater, and that’s not a verdict that should surprise anyone.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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One response to “Review: Slacker (1991)

  1. Pingback: Review: Dazed And Confused (1993) | Bill's Movie Emporium

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