Dazed and Confused
Written and directed by Richard Linklater
I have seen this before. I think I had it pitched to me as a kind of similar film to something like Empire Records and I really, really hated it. It’s not like Empire Records. It’s like the dark side of Linklater.
I have no idea if any of the hazing rituals and weird traditions depicted in the first hour of the movie are accurate, I’ve never gone to an American high school, and I wasn’t around in the time period depicted (1976) and I’ve never been to Texas, where I do understand things are a bit more extreme. But I do know that watching all the hazing is deeply uncomfortable to me. I’ve talked before about how unsettling I feel watching bullying, and this is like, long drawn out, protracted sequences of bullying of multiple kinds. Straight up violence to the boys, and emotional and sexual manipulation of the girls. Torture, no matter which way you look at it.
And then there’s this weird thing where Mitch, who’s had the crap beaten out of him is basically picked up by one of the seniors (Pink) and it feels so much like a homoerotic grooming, and the same thing happens to that one sophomore girl. But then the freshman boy hooks up with the sophomore girl so that there’s no gayness at all and everything’s straight and I don’t even know which way I wanted it to go because I don’t even like them.
Then there’s random destruction and damage to property and drugs and stuff, and I’m just like ‘meeeehhhh’. Linklater does a good line in people talking at night but this isn’t my favourite of his.
Does it make me love the people? I dunno. Like, Linklater knows people, he’s a genius at humanising his characters and making them real. But these characters all just seem like annoying assholes for the most part. Lots of these actors became more famous after this though.
Plus there’s lots of homophobic language all through and I know that it’s whatever, it’s accurate for the time and maybe the ages of the characters but it’s still wearying to watch.
Bechdel test: Yes, lots of this, lots of scenes of women talking which is cool. Mostly about each other and how they’re bitches, etc, but yeah.I dunno. It passes.
Ms. Ginny Stroud: Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don’t forget what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.
Pink: You cool man?
Mitch: Like how?
State of Mind: This film has a great soundtrack. I’m glad Linklater made it so he could go on to make better films, I do not enjoy this movie. Disagree with it being this high up on the list, if it even had to be here at all. Is it that important to record American teenagers being asses to each other?