A film that defines a generation, Richard Linklater’s iconic film captures the spirit of adolescence in the 1970’s but its themes can connect with every young person. It’s a story of love, drugs, drinks, and partying while balancing strong thematic storytelling with simultaneous characters and story lines. It’s funny, engaging, moving and has a kick ass soundtrack, you’ll never forget Dazed and Confused.
Set on the last day of school, the film follows multiple characters ranging in age from freshman to seniors. When the big party finds itself cancelled, many of the older kids cruise through town looking for some way to celebrate their freedom. From a freshman who finds himself with all the cool kids, two nerds trying to find out what’s happening, Ben Affleck hunting down kids to smack with a wooden paddle – Linklater moves through all of this with ease and the audience doesn’t get lost. It’s a reflection of life, everything that happens in this film is probably something you’ve done yourself, smoked weed, got into a fight, underage drinking. It captures the essence of what it means to be young and how the future and real life mean nothing, that the best days of your life were nights like these.
The cast is impressive, you can see some major stars in the early years but the film is never a vehicle for some movie star (even thought it is the origin of Matthew Mcconaughey’s famous “Alright Alright Alright“). The focus is on some characters more than others but it suits the film well, everyone comes to natural resolution in the story, there is real growth to these characters despite the events only happening over a twelve-hour period. Linklater creates a real range to their characters and they exude believability: the lanky teenagers, the cool kids, the outsiders who make “original” social commentary, the audience knows immediately where they fit in on the spectrum. The standouts are Wiley Wiggins are, Adam Goldberg, Ben Affleck and the great Matthew Mcconaughey. The brilliance of Mcconaughey’s character is how it shows the perspective of youth, the high schooler’s he’s a legend, the coolest guy in the world – but when reality rears its head in you know that he is nothing more than a burnout holding on to the glory days. He’s still awesome though, fuck reality! Mcconaughey is the man.
You really need to this film for yourself and just flow with the movie, you’ll probably connect to a lot of the film. Except for the initiation stuff, that is just way to weird, I know of high school bullying but condiments sprayed on girls and boys hunted down to be smacked with wooden panels? It’s weird at first but stick with it and jam out to the tunes. Dazed and Confused is one those films that is like looking into a time machine, it doesn’t feel like a film at times – your just watching life and its simple brilliance. For one night, everyone let’s go of their baggage and embraces something new.