Film of the week : Slacker (1991)
Filmmaker : Richard Linklater
Language : English
Before Richard Linklater made Dazed and Confused, he made Slacker. In Slacker, he films hippies, beatniks, weirdos, conspiracy theorists, anarchists, burglars, psychics, anti-capitalists, hitchhikers, shoplifters, anti-consumerists, writers, street musicians, anti-artists, wannabes, recluses, anti-travellers; these people are the proprietors of American subculture, revolutionaries in their own right, who live and move around the fringes of society. The film drifts through this assortment of characters and their conversations over the span of a day, making philosophers out of these people while capturing the zeitgeist of suburban Austin, which serves as both the inspiration and the setting of this film.
Linklater knows the rhythm and eclecticism of the place like the back of his hand. The characters in the film are more-likely-than-not a fictionalisation of the people he has seen and met in his life. The music of the film comes from the local bands who played at the local clubs around that time. In many ways, Slacker is his ode to Austin and it can as well be a final dissertation submission for a Doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Texas.
Slacker, which has gone on to earn itself a repute of being the definitive Generation X movie, is quite worthy of its reputation : in its self-indulging monologues which are rooted in the rejection of the mainstream and its lack of a narrative structure which itself is a meta-commentary on the possibilities of storytelling, the film is an anthem of the layabout twenty-somethings who spend their days drifting in space-time rambling about almost anything that they can get their mind to ponder upon. Some might see it as a work of pretension and pseudo-intellectualism and they can’t be more wrong about it, since there is a sincerity to the being and way of life of these characters which is infectious and liberating, and also quite fun to watch.
A character (end credits identify him as Dostoyevsky Wannabe) says :
“Who’s ever written a great work about the immense effort required in order not to create?”
That might as well be the essence of this film.