Few films can truly say that they are something original and unique. When you find a film that can, you know it is something special. Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1990)can. With a wonderfully creative style, diverse subjects, fun characters, and a non-existent message, Slacker has quickly become one of my favorite films that I’ve watched in a long time.
To say that the style of this film is creative does a disservice to Richard Linklater and everyone involved. This film does what few at the time, or even now, were brave enough to do. Linklater took the scarcely used method of having no true main character or main plot, and multiplied it by one-hundred. The entire film is told as a day in the life of a city. The film is told in segments, almost all in which are unique and different from the ones prior. The only connecting thread between each segment is that each end with the main focus interacting in some way with the main focus of the following segment. Additionally, each segment only features a few cuts, if any. Most of the film is told in long uninterrupted takes. This creates a feeling that the film is happening in real time and adds a feeling of cohesion between the wildly different segments.
It is because of Linklater’s creative style that the film truly has no larger subject then simply the city of Austin, Texas. No two segments in the film share anything thematically, the segment following a man getting a taxi ride from the bus station shares nothing in common with the following segment of the man who ran over his mother with a car, except for the fact that the two characters briefly crossed paths. The main focuses of each segment crossing paths with each other also makes for a fun meta-game. After the third or fourth segment, the audience begins to catch on to the concept of the film. Then, through out each segment the audience wonders each time we meet a new character if that’s who we will follow next. Will it be the man working store security? The women who was just caught shoplifting? Nope, turns out we will be following the man who just happened to be walking past the store on his walk home. It adds a whole new level of creativity and genius to the film.
As said above, this film truly has no main character. However, each character the film chooses to follow is worth following and has an interesting story to tell. Only on a few occasions does the film seem to be lingering on a segment that would be better if it ended sooner. For example, the segment that follows someone using a blurry camera inside of a club comes across as odd inclusion in the film and lasted longer then I, as an audience member, would have liked. Butt that segment can be overlooked because it adds to the feeling of spontaneity the film has.
Since this film has no main plot there is really no main message being displayed. However, an argument could be made that the message the film could be how diverse a city can be or how so much can happen in just one day.
I really like this film. I particularly enjoy how creative the film is. I’ve seen films before that was made up of separate segments but the way Slacker connected the stories was what first sold me on the film. It was a concept so simple but I cannot think of any other film that’s done it that way. I think what I enjoy about this film is how wildly different it is but at the same time remains very simple. Some movies are different from the typical Hollywood mold but at the same time are as far as simple as you can get. I like how unique this film is, especially when many film studios in the Hollywood system would never dream of making a film where, like I’ve said over and over, nothing happens. But nothing happening is exactly why I like it. If you are looking for a film that is not super challenging to watch or are a fan of Richard Linklater’s other work, strongly recommend checking out Slacker(1990).