Dazed and Confused (1993) | Review
by Leah Singer
Bell-bottoms, Aerosmith, and Matthew McConaughey – what more could a coming-of-age film need? Richard Linklater’s 1993 Dazed and Confused is a feel-good comedy that focuses on the last day of a Texan high school, May 28th, 1976.
The film is typically defined as a ‘no-plot’ film as it lacks a singular classic narrative structure of disruption/ resolution/ equilibrium.
However, I personally disagree and argue it presents multiple narratives as it follows the lives of various characters over this singular day. This is exactly what makes the film so loveable and why it gained the title of ‘cult classic’: so much, yet so little, happens. The storylines of cherished characters such as Pink, Slater, Wooderson, and young Mitch Kramer feature freshman hazing, young love, bowling alleys, and drive-ins. All stories tie in at the end of the film with an impromptu keg party under a moonlight tower.
photo courtesy of imdb
Linklater has perfected the seventies aesthetic and it is a visually stunning film. There is an overall graininess to the look and the wash of sepia tone and frequent Steadicam use sells this seventies ‘slice of life’ despite being filmed in the nineties.
The fashion is era-appropriate and entirely enviable. Costume designer, Kathy Dover, sourced all the clothing as authentic seventies vintage garments and was not afraid to utilize flares, leather vests, and tube socks. The set design is also remarkable, notably the bowling alley car park cluttered with Cadillacs and Chevrolets. Lastly, the film features a great soundtrack, with music from Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, and Rick Derringer. All these elements combined result in an immersive experience that leaves you with a sense of nostalgia.
In a 2019 Guardian interview, Linklater theorized that, ‘teenage life is more like you’re looking for the party, looking for something cool, the endless pursuit of something you never find, and even if you do, you never quite appreciate it.’ Living in the moment and enjoying your youth is what this film promotes, and this is why I regard it one of my favourite films of all time.
Considering the theme of graduation, I would recommend this film as a reminder that having your entire life planned out in your twenties isn't a necessity. Take each day as it comes and all will be ‘alright, alright, alright.’