Dazed and Confused – Film Review

Director: Richard Linklater

Writer: Richard Linklater

Starring: Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Shawn Andrews, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Ben Affleck, and Matthew McConaughey

Rating: ★★★★

In 1993 Richard Linklater released his third film, Dazed and Confused, which had a much higher budget than his previous two films. It’s a brilliant comedy/drama coming-of-age story that feels very reminiscent of the high-school stories of the eighties, like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. Unlike those films, it’s looking backwards, being set in 1975, when Linklater was 15 years old and feels authentic to that time.  

Much like Linklater’s second film Slacker, this film doesn’t have much of a narrative. It is more focused around interesting characters interacting with each other, than it is a cohesive story. It’s set during one day, the final day of school and follows a group of seniors and freshman through their hazing rituals and a party afterwards.

There’s a lot of comedy that comes from the interactions as the characters take the next step in growing up. It’s a very light-hearted film, with no risks and understated conflicts. It feels real and doesn’t exaggerate things for drama in the slightest. It’s a feel good film that’s about a simpler time, while at the same time showing the fears and insecurities of growing up. There’s also an incredible soundtrack to back the film, with classic rock songs playing all throughout the film, that’s enough to enjoy by itself.

The film is a time capsule coming-of-age story from the 1970s, even so there’s a universal quality to the characters. Richard Linklater manages to follow a wide variety of characters, not giving importance to one group over another. By doing this he manages to capture an element of humanity. Watching this film as someone who was born the year it was made, seventeen years after the year it was set, I can see people I’ve known in some of the characters. There’s depth to them that goes beyond the architypes.

There is also an incredible ensemble cast, many of which would go on to become household names. Milla Jovovich, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Rapp, and even Renée Zellweger in one of her first roles. It’s an incredible cast and they’re all great in it, and they’re all memorable. There really isn’t a dud performance from anyone.  

Dazed and Confused isn’t as interesting or hypnotic as Linklater’s previous film Slacker, but it’s still a great film. It’s reminiscent of films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in that it captures a snapshot of what life was like at a certain period of time, but the universal themes shine through meaning people will watch this for generations and see themselves in it. 

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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