DVD Review: Slacker (1991)
While Richard Linklater’s Slacker was released here from the hoity-toity Criterion Collection, I don’t think it’s your typical snoozefest.
I feel like at it’s heart, Slacker is an experiment. The film literally has no plot. Instead we’re given a peek into the lives of various inhabitants of a town in Texas. It flows seamlessly from one person to the next as we’re given just a taste of their lives. We’re filled in on where they’re coming from and where they’re going, but we don’t ultimately find out if that’s where they end up. What happened to the guy that ran over his Mom with the family car? Who was that story with the postcards about? Did that weird girl sell Madonna’s pap smear? These questions are never answered. Instead we’re left to wonder about the uncertain future of these characters.
Slacker starts out looking like a regular film. The first scene shows a guy entering town for the first time (played by Linklater himself) looking to find himself in these new surroundings. Then something else happens and the film starts following someone else instead. It’s like the camera just found someone else more interesting and switched to them.
I had heard that this movie was a huge influence on filmmakers like Kevin Smith and it shows. If you look at Clerks side by side with Slacker you’ll definitely see a resemblance. Both films are essentially all talk. There’s no real action. It’s just a lot of people standing around and talking. There are also these almost uncomfortably long takes for many of the scenes. They can be really impressive, but at the same time since I’ve been ingrained with the way current movies are cut, it feels like there’s almost something wrong when I see something like that.
Slacker can be a very enjoyable film. The lack of plot gets somewhat frustrating towards the end though. I felt like the ending just happened, almost like the end of a cartoon. If Porky Pig popped out and said “That’s All Folks!” I wouldn’t have been surprised. Then again, there really isn’t a need for closure in a film like this.