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USA 1993
Directed by
Richard Linklater
105 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Dazed And Confused

Richard Linklater's much-loved teen movie, Dazed and Confused, belongs to its chosen time period, the mid 1970s (1976 to be specific), as George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973) did the late ‘50s/early ‘60s. Set on the last day of the academic year, it follows the high-spirited escapades of a group of middle-class slacker Texas high school students as they partake of a freshmen initiation, hang out a local pool parlour and end the night with an out-of-town keg party.

It’s a reassuringly nostalgic tableau full of photogenic young males and females (including one token Afro-American) getting up to mischief. Given its continuing popularity, evidently it has good deal of accuracy in its depiction of youth in revolt but the problem, for audiences who lie outside its very specific spatio-temporal setting (which, presumably, happens to be Linklater’s own history), and very American cultural frame of reference (which includes baseball, hazing, Abe Lincoln and the Bicentennial) there isn’t a lot to hold one’s interest, Linklater’s empathetic direction notwithstanding.

Linklater tries to leaven proceedings with a trio of more thoughtful students (Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp and Marissa Ribisi) but this ruse always feels tacked on. A plethora of hits by bands such Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and Kiss doesn’t really help either. As there is so little in the way of dramatic interaction you would have had to have been there (or somewhere similar) in order for the film to resonate.

FYI: The film was the big screen debut for Matthew McConaughey and provided an early role for Ben Affleck who plays a football jock. 




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