6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A great depiction of teen life that avoids exploitation,
This review is from: Dazed and Confused (DVD)
This film's massive cult following has led to the recent rise in marijuana use among teens in the small town I hail from. The film does depict a nostalgic, care and consequence free look on an era of casual drug use. As a high school teacher, I have heard more than one of this film's many fans say "I wish I could go back to that year, it must have been a more innocent time." My jaded side would absolutely relish Linkletter making a sequel to this fine film and re-examining characters thirty years or so later as they confront the ultimate consequences of their choices and maybe even meet their offpring behaving the way they did. These characters, like most teenagers (I certainly remember my years) are all pretty much hedonistic, self centered and consumer driven individuals. I really would love to see what happened to them as they matured and became producers (if ever). Would their lives mirror mine (and Lester Birnham's ?).
Anyway, that weak attempt at moralizing aside, Dazed and Confused is a great movie that focuses on character, situation, and setting as opposed to any real plot. There is no great conflict and therefore no real resolution and questions asked in the narrative. In fact, because he (unlike me, the viewer) refuses to judge his characters, Director Richard Linkletter allows them to truly live in the unnamed Texas Town of 1976.
Like his earlier film "Slacker", Linkletter simply allows the film to evolve without any imposistions of classic storytelling structure. He wants his characters to tell their stories on their own terms. Scenes happen as opposed to beginning and ending in a set pattern. His camera is so completely neutral and manages, by avoiding the whiplash editing beloved by so many of his peers in favor of long, loopy and dreamy takes, to become close to a documentary. He, through his camera honestly creates honest and personal spaces.
Scenes are funny not because of snappy, slogan filled one liners like so many other teen flicks are, but rather due to clear clean truthfull situations that the characters can honestly respond to: moments sketched exactly out fo the hormone driven evolutionary soup that is high school.
The film is also extremely economical and tasteful. There really isn't a wasted scene. Linkletter also refuses to bow to current trends by not tacking on any extraneous nude scenes or explicit sex. Such and inclusion would be ultimately exploitive - a quality this film avoids.
The film begins en media res and ends much the same way. The performances and writing in the film are seemless and natural in their execution. Many may be turned off by the super natural delivery as it opposes any sort of dramatic tension. These young anctor inhabit their characters completely without a false not struck. The body language and coded linguistics of teenage life is dead on.
The young cast is made up of many folks who have gone on to do great things. Watch the fine performances of Nicky Katt, Anthony Rapp and Adam Goldberg in addition to the more famous debuts.
Granted not everyone in 76 or now uses drugs and/or drinks to the extent idealized in the movie(it is interesting that we don't see anyone puking or wrecking their muscle cars-again that would be moralizing, explotive. etc.), but yet the costumes and the behavior are dead on. I especially love the dorky tight shorts and pulled up socks of the super macho football coaches.
What more could be said too of the excellent soundtrack? The DVD sparkles visually and aurally.I just would have liked some extra commentary.
Linkletter captures perfectly the fears, hopes and overall attitudes of teen life better than John Hughes could ever have hoped to. With the exception of Cameron Crowe's superb "Say Anything" this is the greatest teen film ever made. It also stands up to the many, many repeated viewings I have enjoyed.