richard linklater’s first feature length film is more a medley of vignettes than it is a proper film. it starts at dawn with the camera inside a bus with richard linklater as the sole subject. linklater gets off the bus, gets into a taxi and begins talking to (not with) the taxi driver about his dreams and the potential philosophy of dreams as alternate universes. after linklater gets out of the cab the camera continues to follow him until a we see a woman hit by a car by a young man in a car who turns out to be her son. shortly after this the camera follows the young man and the film continues in this manner; following people who are in some way linked to the person we were just following. i think that this structure serves several purposes, some practical and some artistic. first, it’s an easy and inexpensive way to make a film. since so much of the film is following people while they’re walking from one place to another, or, as it turns out, from one person to another, the film is shot almost entirely on the streets of austin, texas. as a result there is very little artificial lighting, probably zero constructed sets and only a couple crew members at any given time. artistically the film’s structure helps reinforce one of the major themes – our interconnectedness. another major philosophical theme of the film is destruction as its own form of creation. not only is this addressed by different characters throughout the film, but the film itself is initiated by the death of the woman at the very beginning of the film.
if you want to get a better idea of what this film is really like then just think of “waking life” and “dazed and confused” mixed together. it’s heavy on philosophy and features a lot of (mostly eccentric) young people feeling their way through life. whereas the tone of waking life is mostly somber and very pensive, this film, though also pensive, is more laid back and funny. some of the performances are stilted and i even caught a glimpse of a boom mic at one point, but overall it’s a very well-written film with a good overall idea. linklater is, above all, a good writer and this film shows that as well as any of his others. also, i noticed that background elements of the film (street signs, background conversations, etc.) are carried through from one link to another which, along with the major topics of discussion, provides some continuity throughout the picture. worth watching.