Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused ★★★★★

Right in the middle of the early 90's trough of the teen movie cycle (golden age John Hughes movies way behind in its rear view mirror, the super snarky mid-90's to early 00's peer group of Mean Girls, Clueless, etc still some way away), Linklater's glorious American Graffiti 2.0 is probably the best film about being young ever made.

Taking so much of Lucas' DNA - single-day-in-the-life structure, no real narrative to get in the way of wave after wave of pure nostalgia, its clever use of cars to create and establish character and its use of pop music exclusively - its update for the mid-70's works so perfectly because it manages to blend those rose tinted halcyon parts of a time long now past with real 'universals' about what it means to be young. And unlike so many of its peers, that sacrifice of the traditional teen movie 'plot' that always forces its kids to be put in situations that would only really happen to much older people means it can focus solely on those characters as they party their way through/try to survive the last day of school in 1976......

.......and what a glorious ensemble we have. Not just in its achingly hip young cast, with so many famous names on the cusp of their stardom, but in its overall construction - again, while traditional high school cliques are all present and correct, here they all seem to meld and blur into one, showing that in reality, kids were and are so much more than the one dimensional tropes that so many movies paint them as. Almost every character is allowed to lay out their hopes, dreams, fears, worries, all so insignificant to us older eyes, but so desperately important to these youngsters and so identifiable, even to a jaded, misanthropic, middle-aged nerd in a country and culture so far removed from the one we're watching.

Throw in the greatest movie soundtrack ever, dialogue that remains in common parlance to this day and a tone so focussed on making us remember exactly what it was about being young that so many of us still think so fondly of no matter what background or time period we experienced it, this is simply one of the greats.

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