Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused ★★★★★

The Criterion Challenge 2021
Progress: 7/52
23. Comedy

r/Letterboxd Film Club
27. Cult Classics

I don't know why I'm so surprised by this revelation, but Dazed and Confused is such a cool film. There's an intoxicating feeling of nostalgia to it that's incredibly hard for me to pin down, or even describe - every interaction and every scene just seems so superlative that I can't even pull any specific details out.

And I guess that's the point? There's a comforting haze that descends on you as you watch this film, the same type of haze that hangs languidly over your own childhood and teenage memories, feelings that are simultaneously moving and yet completely still, like a living creature trapped in rapidly congealing amber, waiting to be gawked at and treasured but ultimately unreachable.

There's this creeping thing that you sense out of the corner of your eye, when you realise that everything significant in your life is temporary - this version of you and your friends and your life with minimal consequences is stuck in whatever place you're standing in (be it a rec centre, a dimly lit forest, a football field at dawn), and you can try with all your might but you can't stay there. The careening bulldozer that is your life is still going a hundred miles an hour, and all you can do is helplessly look forward into the horizon, stealing wistful glances at the rearview mirror, and you hope beyond hope that you never forget that feeling, even as you see the memory attached to it fade into the background of your life.

I feel totally bummed now for some reason. This is the first time I've seen this film, and I got a major kick out of hearing the dialogue in this, stuff that's been referenced a hundred times. Every frame was a new experience, and even though my high school life was nothing like this, I was still hit with an almost unbearable sense of wistfulness. Somehow, this was both timeless and yet bound to a specific bygone era, the distilled essence of having an experience that is both temporary and endlessly defining.

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