Paul Malikkal


Dazed and Confused (1993)

Paul Malikkal

Somehow I never realized how perfectly Cynthia articulates the movie’s (and Linklater’s) entire philosophy about half-way through: “I'd like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor insignificant preamble to something else.”

Nothing is resolved by the end of Dazed and Confused. For Pink, in particular, the future seems uncertain— almost frighteningly so. But to fret about the future is to do a tremendous disservice to “the present.” And so for now, Aerosmith tickets, the cool summer breeze, and that open road. This is a luxury afforded to the young. But then is youth just a “preamble” to the moment when we’re forced, for the first time, to grow up and think about tomorrow? About the rest of the summer? About the rest of our lives? Linklater’s films are about time. But they’re more specifically about negotiating the relationship between the present and future. In the cinema of Linklater, true fulfillment is found when we completely give ourselves over to the present with blissful ignorance of the future— when the moment seizes us to paraphrase the ending of Boyhood. So many of Linklater’s characters live in these states of willful ignorance to time’s passage e.g., the dream time that Celine and Jessie find themselves in, the four year grace period that the baseball players in Everybody Wants Some enjoy before they must confront that they don’t have a shot at the major leagues, Wooderson’s stunted maturation after his high school glory days, etc. Later in his career, Linklater would go on to explore what does happen when the present becomes the future. But in Dazed he allows these characters to remain suspended in a perpetual present, eternally ignorant of what fates may befall them in a year, a decade, and beyond.

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