Movie of the Week: Dazed and Confused (1993)

Richard Linklater directs Jason London, Wiley Wiggins and Michelle Burke in this gentle feelgood teen comedy that follows dozens of kids on the last day of school in Austin, Texas, 1976.

There’s never been a teen movie quite like Dazed & Confused. Linklater has always played with movie form. His films experiment with real time, rotoscoping, day in the life structures, movies filmed over lifetimes. He’s a director who tries and succeeds in attaching brave, boundary pushing configurations to simple, pure tales. A couple sharing a night, a local hero returning to town, a boy growing up. Key human emotions made feature films. Dazed and Confused trumps them all though. A mosaic of kids at mini-crossroads in their lives. The decisions they make are not earth shattering but they will define their happiness and sense of self-worth over the next few years. And it all feels so natural and unforced. We hang out with thirty or so well defined characters as they smoke joints, drive cars and take spanking and bully initiations rituals a little too seriously. I’m not really into any of those things. The innocent colourful good times presented are kinda alien to my teenage years. And maybe that’s what makes Dazed and Confused the very best teen movie. By setting itself two decades earlier it wasn’t trying to sell its generation of viewers a fantasy. There’s no almost-in-a-mansion set house party with a rock band in the corner. Or Ferrari joyrides. Or Cinderella makeovers / romance. It is just kids being kids with no big consequences or dominating leaders or political comment. Even the nerds are kinda cool… kinda. Some of the cast went on to mega stardom. Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck and Parker Posey make brilliant impressions in smaller roles. I doubt these parts were written as stand outs. Talent wins out. See to: Rory Cochrane’s time lagging pot head. But beyond the great casting, eternal bonhomie, relaxed joking, unmatchable quotability, tight fashions and iconic look… Dazed & Confused has a soundtrack that absolutely punches your head about. It is a non-stop belter of Seventies rock. “Me and my “loser” friends, you know, we gotta get Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the summer.” Check you later!

10

Check out my wife Natalie’s Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/

2 comments

  1. One if the great films about not particularly very much, but full of existential fun. Rory Cochrane has had a decent career, but he’s one of those character actors that deserved bigger roles. He stole the show from Bale in a memorable performance in the Western, Hostiles. Maybe he’s difficult to work with but would love to see him in a Tarantino or Zahler film.

    Liked by 1 person

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