An ordinary day in sunny Austin, Texas. “Ordinary” being relative, but bringing a relatable hue to the picture. One person comes into frame to relish in their fifteen minutes of fame before the next one comes along to do the same. This experience we are given is quite unique in that it sparks a simple inquiry in our heads. “A film can do that?” I will elaborate, but this question has remained lodged in my head, seemingly carving away the road on which my writing travels.

Slacker (1991)

Slacker (1991)

But, “a film can do that?” Most of us are aware of character studies. Films like Taxi Driver or One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest do the term great justice. Yet, there is something much different about Slacker that brings forth just as much satisfaction. The idea of quick character studies seems interesting, but you assume would not be that effective. It is at this moment where I enjoy giving high praise to Mr. Richard Linklater.

Linklater’s writing trudges through the thought of not-likely, or better yet impossibility, by bringing the right amount of dimensions and reality to each and every one of his characters. These quick bursts of character injections are enough for our purposes. Any more focus given to any one individual would throw the entire film into the dreaded “forgettable” column. Rather, we remember the moments unique to our artistic palettes.

A cynical man catches a ride back into town. A woman tries to sell Madonna’s alleged pap smear. A man takes a taxi instead of walking. These are three characters out of the many throughout the film, yet these specific characters induce my interests through disparate emotions. The cynic encapsulates my bitterness, bringing forth my infrequent desire to be alone. The pap smear girl simply highlights the range of my comfort when watching a film. The last man is a pleasure seeing as he is played by none other than Richard Linklater himself. His character starts the film off asking questions of thought and choice.

Slacker touches upon many social anxieties, not necessarily stemming entirely from the younger population, as there are a few hints of older generations being represented. That being said, I would still strongly argue Linklater is acting as a strong voice for his own generation. Not without success, to be sure. These young generational films can have a long lasting effect on many inspiring filmmakers. Case and point, Kevin Smith has often credited Linklater and Slacker for the inspiration of Clerks and his career onwards. Surely if any success comes my way, thanks will be pointed back towards films like this.

Linklater’s 105 minute film stays strong from its first moment to the last. People always have the ability to garner our interests, putting a heavy weight on the writer to get it right, especially when each character only gets a few minutes of screen time. Although it does not need to be said, I will rise to the cliche and say it anyways. Linklater knocked this one out of the park through everything from his dialog to character styles. He created strength when needed and weakness where it was necessary.

My recommendation for this film could not be too much higher. To see Linklater’s writing towards the beginning of his career is a pleasure in itself, for we witness how impeccable his style can be. Check out the film, check out the director. A highly influential film on the independent movement and one of the greatest filmmakers of our time.

Slacker (1991) directed by Richard Linklater

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