Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater’s second film Slackers is completely unique. Instead of having a traditional narrative it instead follows a group of oddball characters throughout a single day in Austin, Texas. The film starts with Linklater himself in the back of a taxi talking about multiple universes, and then the camera moves to follow someone else, and then someone else, never stopping on a single character for long. There’s not an overall story, just snapshots from the characters’ lives throughout the single day.
Slacker is a captivating experience. All of the characters seem real, and there is a documentary feel to it, which is added to by the low-budget production. Watching this thirty years later, I sat there wondering what they’ve been up to in the years since, where has life taken them. On the screen they’re almost constantly moving, although almost without purpose, and everyone is at different stages of their lives with differing backgrounds. Some of the characters feel more comfortable about themselves than others, all exposing their fears and thoughts on the world in tiny segments. It’s fascinating to watch and easy to get absorbed into.
There are so many characters, and it’s not possible to take them all in, but the film puts you into a trance as each one comes and goes, the camera focusing on someone else and following them for a while before jumping to someone completely different. While the film is considered to be generation defining depiction of Generation X, it doesn’t just focus on them, there’s all kinds of people featured throughout the day. One of the more interesting characters from early on is a middle-aged man obsessed with UFOs and government conspiracy, that humanity is already colonising other planets. This isn’t a film about one generation, it’s about everyone that’s slightly out of sync with mainstream society.
Slacker is definitely worth seeking out if you’re looking for something different. It’s an important piece of film history, inspiring films like Clerks, and it’s a hypnotic journey, that while rambling still has you hooked from the opening moment.
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