Starring: Richard Linklater, Rudy Basquez, Jean Caffeine, Mark James, Tommy Pallotta
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Synopsis: Presents a day in the life in Austin, Texas among its social outcasts and misfits, predominantly the twenty-something set, using a series of linear vignettes.
The debut feature from Richard Linklater was one of the first ‘indie’ movies made on a small budget outside of the Hollywood system. Along with Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies and Videotape”, Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”, Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” and Robet Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi”, it caused quite a stir in 1991. Richard Linklater is one of my favourite directors, but I have to say, outside of appreciating the concept, Slacker wasn’t my favourite film he has directed.
I can see that back in 1991 it would have been quite a radical film. There is no plot to speak of, no well known actors. Hell, there isn’t even a lead actor! It is basically a film that follows one character, maybe for ten seconds, maybe for five minutes, but then as soon as they even partially interact with someone else, we follow that person instead. Sort of like a film version of pass the parcel. It’s quite fascinating to watch, but not always entertaining if you know what I mean. Having said that, thinking back on the film now does rouse some sort of interest in me, even if it’s just because I now would love to make a film in a similar style.
Anyone who loves Linklater’s “Sunset” trilogy will note that Slacker kind of predates that “walking and talking” picture. A lot of the characters talk philosophically between themselves. And the clue behind what the film is about is probably pointed at by Linklater himself in the first ‘scene’ in the taxi when he tells the driver about parallel universes. Basically we are shown that each of these characters, even if we only follow them for a minute, go on and do something else that day, which we may not see, but they do something none the less.
Slacker isn’t the kind of film I will sit through again (maybe I need to) but I’m glad I’ve finally seen it. It’s definitely a film that deserves a lot of praise for it’s concept, and I can see why it caused a stir all those years ago.