An original, narratively innovative, low-budget film from the fringe, SLACKER is a perfectly plotless work that tracks incidental moments in the lives of some one hundred characters who have made the bohemian side of Austin, Texas, their hangout of choice.
Because it lacks any conventional storyline, or even a central character, SLACKER is impossible to synopsize or categorize. The film's organizing sensibility is perhaps best explained by director Richard Linklater himself, who appears onscreen in his film's opening scene. On his way into town, he
free-associates to his cab driver: "You know in THE WIZARD OF OZ where Dorothy meets the Scarecrow ... and they think about going in all those directions and they end up going in that one direction? All those other directions, just because they thought about them, became separate realities ...
entirely different movies." SLACKER consists of all those other different movies. Its camera follows one character, splinters off to follow another, then another, never spending more than a few minutes with any one and never returning to a place or person from preceding scenes.
The two forces that hold the film together are its clear sense of place (specifically Austin, more generally college towns) and its intimate knowledge of a certain character type: the "slacker." The term is slang that refers loosely to any number of young underemployed residents of college
communities who either lack direction in life or choose an alternative direction. In an hour and a half we meet dozens of these street musicians, espresso czars, co-op kids, sidewalk psychics, paranoid hitchhikers, disgruntled grad students, cafe philosophers, anti-artists, petty thieves,
anarchists, post-modernists, dropouts and freaks--slackers all.
While many appear to be lazy and indulgent drags on society, what emerges is a portrait of a collective of creative malcontents. In the clubs, coffeehouses, streets and unfurnished apartments near campus they each spin their idiosyncratic conspiracy theories about modern life, UFOs, Elvis,
Madonna, George Bush, popular culture, JFK, Oswald, Marx and various forms of cosmic consciousness. Although there is little action as they practice the fine art of hanging out, their constant talk is full of energy, humor, eccentricity and a warped but discernable intelligence.
Produced on a budget of only $23,000, SLACKER became a surprise hit on the festival circuit. At age 29, director Richard Linklater obtained a major distribution deal from Orion Classics, which blew the original 16mm print up to 35mm and remixed its soundtrack. Such treatment was exceptional for a
self-taught, first-time filmmaker who used mostly unpaid amateur talent to create an experiment in cinematic form. But the film's improvisatory, meandering style is actually carefully constructed.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: An original, narratively innovative, low-budget film from the fringe, SLACKER is a perfectly plotless work that tracks incidental moments in the lives of some one hundred characters who have made the bohemian side of Austin, Texas, their hangout of choice.… (more)