Richard Linklater has always been known for his slice-of-life type of storytelling, and in my opinion, "Dazed and Confused" represents that almost more than any film he has ever conjured up. Coming of age films revolving around high-school or college life have always been hit or miss, depending on the material the filmmakers decide to delve into, which has the chance of either heightening a film or digging it's own grave upon release. "Dazed and Confused" is among the best films in it's genre. Following graduating high school seniors as they begin their upcoming year-long trample of the freshmen, this film is more about these characters living in the moment and ignoring the harsh reality that is awaiting some of them in the coming weeks. Trying to get to a huge party by the climax of the picture, this film is the definition of a "hangout" if I've ever seen one.
Released in 1993 and taking place in the 1970's, this film was a launching pad for many Hollywood actors known today in the 21st century. Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, and Milla Jovovich (to name a few), definitely have Richard Linklater to thank for displaying their range with such care, even if they have to portray stoners for the majority of this picture. Exploring romance, bullying, drugs, alcohol, responsibility, and life itself, this film is able to capture everything that teenagers between the ages of fourteen and nineteen truly need to understand. "Dazed and Confused" manages to juggle all of these things while still remaining a hilarious comedy and a fun hangout picture.
The risky filmmaking that Richard Linklater pulls off in almost every film he sets out to make, is always commendable, because he seems to never do any wrong with it. In films such as "The Before Trilogy," he is able to build a lifelong relationship/friendship by having two characters hangout for 90 minutes. Doing the same thing here, within 102 minutes, the viewers will be able to understand which characters are actually as they appear, which ones have been influenced, unsure, or have other issues outside of school. His dialogue is extremely engrossing, which always makes up for the lack of a full-on story. His stories are the characters most of the time, which is why he is one of the most unique filmmakers around today. "Dazed and Confused" came at the beginning of an amazing career for writer/director Richard Linklater, and it still holds up today as one of the definitive hangout films. It may be slightly slow at times if you are hoping for none-stop comedy and high school quarrels, but it takes it's time to get it's message out there. If you know what you are in for, this is a near perfect film.
Review By: KJ Proulx