Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused ★★★★


[originally written on my blog]

Can't honestly say I lived this movie, as I was only eight years old in '76 and attended an all-male Jesuit high school, but it wields a powerful nostalgic grip all the same. (And let me note again that 1993 - 1976 = 17, while 2011 - 1993 = 18. Would a high-school movie set in 1994 feel even remotely as retro? Has time essentially stopped?) As a sign of how much my taste has evolved over the past couple decades, I was originally slightly put off by the film's apparent aimlessness, whereas now I'm primarily irked by its sole concession to narrative structure, viz. Pink's internal debate about whether to sign the football team's just-say-no pledge. Nickname notwithstanding, Pink is easily the least colorful of Linklater's gaggle of vividly drawn types, embodied by what really has to be the greatest young ensemble cast ever assembled; people justifiably marvel at how many future stars he discovered, but I'm equally gobsmacked by the performances he got from kids who were pretty much never seen again, like Christin Hinojosa as Sabrina (shy new hazing recruit who hooks up with Dude From Rent) and the amazing Sasha Jenson, who absolutely murders blonde jock Don Dawson's cheerful sense of entitlement (without making him repellent, somehow). This is a world that feels fully inhabited, as if the entire day had been staged in real time and the camera is just capturing bits and pieces of it at random. There's still a slight sense of weightlessness to it all—nobody experiences anything remotely like an epiphany, and next year will likely be much the same—but I'm thankful that Linklater didn't go the American Graffiti route and make some last-ditch bid for Significance by relating the characters' ultimate fates. The final slow fade to black, on the open road as seen through the windshield of Wooderson's car, conveys the same idea far more eloquently.