Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused offers an insight into the 70’s on the graduation night for many highschoolers. A certain sense of nostalgia and wanting to go back to live a similar time or moment brings this film into the light, offering a view to the teenagers, both good and bad, and just how cool people back then were.
The film tells the story of a small town that when classes are let out for the summer, many fear as the upperclassmen go hunting with their paddle bats for their next prey. Perhaps a fraternity reference a brit wouldn’t understand. Yet, as Fred O’bannion (Ben Afflect) and his crew including Jason London who plays the main character ‘Randall’, they stumble upon Mitch Krammar(Wiley Wiggins) who turns out to be a cooler freshman than expected and so Randall invites him along.
Mitch, known as ‘krammar’, soon sees the benefits and cons of hanging around with a group that goes around throwing bowling balls into cars soon to be chased by a man with a gun. Showing what life could be like as he grows up, whether he chooses to continue or not. Yet, what Linklater does in developing the film is to show a various amounts of characters that we stick with for a while and then switch to another. Eventually running side by side. It’s interesting to see with the ideas of sex, drugs, fighting and general bad stuff going along with the occasional questioning of “Is this all there is?” and one character expressing how he doesn’t follow the whole desire to be apart of a frat or to be popular but more wonders about why they decide to do it in the first place.
As pointed out by many, is Linklater trying to depict the more popular who support going after younger teenagers with paddle bats who love to just fight and drink a load before some act of crime seem to be seen as targeting misfits and slacking in school to stay another year for the realisation of growing up is too much for them. A dominance at high school is something that Ben Afflect and Mathew McConaughey’s characters cling onto.
Whether this brings about a reminiscence of high school or a state of reality in how many teenagers do remember the times in school due to being popular or being powerful but feeling the opposite when the time comes to an end. Nevertheless, the film is a good watch, reminding us of why Linklater has gone onto such successes as ‘about a boy’ with his clever, subtle directing and screenplay. However you view it, the film certainly made me feel I could have either really enjoyed 70’s high school America or had a dreadful time…