Dazed and Confused is not at all confused about its subject matter, though it is a bit hazed by a thick fog of nostalgia. I couldn’t really get swept up in it like I imagine a lot of folks might be. The soundtrack was solid. There were some themes of friendship and courtship that were fairly universal. The freshman initiation traditions are pretty sadistic and brutal from a current standpoint. Kids those days.
The film resembles American Graffiti in a lot of ways, though without the sense of import and earnestness that American Graffiti had. Dazed and Confused is a bit slack whereas American Graffiti holds real tension. George Lucas’ characters are on the way toward or away from the lives they long for. Linklater’s characters are burning excess energy, getting high, flipping off the status quo, wandering in a daze, confusing committment with slavery, confusing liveliness with living life to the full.
That being said, it is worth a gander. There is something about watching these characters who live life on the edge. Their impulsiveness. Their hesitations. Their vulnerability. Their hearts on their sleeves. It can reawaken sensibilities that maybe you haven’t yet made much sense of. Maybe you are wandering in a daze, a bit confused about your own history and experience. Maybe you are watching too many good movies that are too smart, or holding too many of your natural impulses at bay. Maybe you are too old for your age, whatever age you might be. Whatever the case, don’t let Dazed and Confused stop you at nostalgia. Let yourself see where else nostalgia might take you.