Slacker (1991) (R)
"Slacker" is an odd picture from beginning director Richard Linklater. It attempts to encompass Austin, Texas in one day and one night; but everyone can see that it bit off more than it can chew.
The movie begins with a young man (played by Linklater) getting in a taxi at the bus station. He starts rambling to his taxi driver about a dream that he had on the bus. He's not sure if there are multiple universes that depend on decisions that we make...for instance, somewhere in some universe he's still at the bus station probably going home with a cute girl.
After long minutes of his yammering, he gets out of the taxi and starts walking. He hasn't gone far before he sees a woman get his by a car...there is a comic indifference to how people who come across the woman's body react. One woman, in perfect jock form, is jogging and doesn't stop her aerobic exercise. She jogs in place, telling people not to touch the body and that somebody has already called the police.
"Slacker" feels like narrative hot-potato, one that I thought would have made a full circle but doesn't. From the man who was in the taxi, the camera switches to the boy who hit the woman. He sits in his room, burns a few photos and starts to make a recording before the police knock on his door and take him away.
Most of the switch-overs occur on the street. Bystanders will draw the camera to themselves and then we have a change in the story. There is no plot, no protagonist, and no antagonist.
It's a more radical interpretation of a movie like Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing".
So if you have nothing to go with, how do you make a movie out of that? I don't know, but Linklater somehow did.
Yet his movie is remarkably boring at times.
There is only so much that you can do with long shots and random chatting. It worked in Linklater's later projects like "Before Sunrise"; but here it seems like an unnecessary plot device.
That being said, if you took that out, you'd be left with no film whatsoever. So maybe, that's why the movie is called "Slacker"...it refers the the defiant stance that Linklater takes against the mainstream films of the age.
It's very reminiscent of avant-garde films like "Blonde Cobra"...but with more plot.
"Slacker" is a frustrating work, because you want it to go somewhere and it doesn't.
Perhaps we are supposed to glean the meaning of the film from conversations that occur throughout the movie...but I doubt it. Most everyone in the film seems completely stoned and talks in a baked-Woody-Allen fashion. It's enjoyable for the first half, and then it gets tedious. If "Slacker" was trying to show the culture and diversity of Austin, Texas then it failed. If it was trying to show the lower middler class, high white kids' conversations then it was a smashing success.
The movie is slightly racist and an off-shoot of films like "Easy Rider". Slow it down, take it easy...talk—this is what "Slacker" is about.
The film could be a commentary about these kids, it could be a comedy of relations, or it could be something else altogether.
But in the end, I didn't care what "Slacker" was about...because it bored me. I was lost as the audience and was just waiting for the movie to end.
Richard Linklater seems to have made a movie about nothing—I appreciate whatever it was that he was trying to accomplish—but I find "Slacker" far from being a success.
Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones