Slacker is one of the freshest independent films to come along in some time, but because of non-narrative, non-characterization approach, film won’t be to all tastes. Set in one day, the action shifts fluidly from one character to another as people walk around town, hang out in cafes, speechify, and lay raps on each other.
Highly idiosyncratic and original in approach, pic was produced on a shoestring budget in Austin, Texas, in the summer of 1989 and was seen in a slightly different version in 1990 at festivals in Seattle, Dallas and Munich.
Title refers to a new species of beatnik or hippie that, from the evidence presented here, has some humor and wants to be committed to some ideal, although members could use a strong dose of reality along with their espresso to perk them up a bit. People on display are nearly all white and in their 20s.
There’s the young man (director Richard Linklater himself) who opens the film by regaling a diffident cab driver with his theories of alternate realities. Arriving at his destination, he notices a woman who has been run over, whereupon the action switches to the woman’s disturbed son, who apparently committed the crime. And so it goes with a population consisting of political conspiracy freaks, out-of-work musicians, car fanatics, anarchists, idle girls, would-be philosophers and proselytizers of many persuasions.
Linklater springs these seemingly random encounters together with a fluid, on-the-move style. Basic problem, given the absence of storyline, is that interest quickly rises and falls by virtue of who happens to be on screen.