Dazed And Confused was met with critical acclaim in 1993 and catapulted director Richard Linklater to stardom. He earned himself a membership in the pantheon of young audacious filmmakers, alongside Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and David O Russell, while the film went on to become a cult favourite. In the decades to follow, Linklater has become one of the most innovative and understated directors of his generation by accumulating a miscellaneous body of work.
The concepts of ‘reunion’ and ‘nostalgia’ are recurring motifs in his work and he has persistently dared to defy industry expectations by taking his time. He loves to explore characters and stories over long periods of time, as demonstrated in his ‘Before’ trilogy and the groundbreaking drama Boyhood, and he enjoys a freedom and autonomy that few others are afforded. And so with 23-years passing since his breakthrough film, he has chosen to return to that world for his latest piece, Everybody Wants Some!!, and in turn delivered what is possibly his best film.
Set in 1980, the film chronicles the final three days of Summer-break for a Texan college baseball team who live together in a campus-house. They cruise around town ogling at girls during the day and party hard throughout the night, while cramming as much frivolity into every spare minute between. It’s a simple story that doesn’t concern itself with pretext and relies on the efficiency of its writing and the strength of its cast.
Everybody Wants Some!! is not a direct sequel to Dazed And Confused, but rather a spiritual sequel or a companion piece. The films are set four-years apart and feature entirely different character ensembles. They have no direct narrative connection, however they work upon the same constructs and are undeniably cut from the same fabric.
The film opens with a methodical panning shot as our lead character drives along a long stretch of road while The Knack’s “My Sharona” blares out the windows. We are given a glimpse into his car, noting his 8-track cassette player and vinyl turntable boxed in the back seat. Within moments of the first frame we are swept into the era and prepared for a wild ride, and from thereon the film is a stunning recreation of the early 80s and about as precise as Linklater’s filmmaking has ever been.
At the risk of upsetting a legion of the filmmaker’s fans, I would suggest that Everybody Wants Some!! is superior to Dazed And Confused and might just be Linklater’s magnum opus. In returning to the concepts of his ’93 film, he has observed the previous methods and applied his years of knowledge to their execution. With his narrative structure essentially a patchwork of scenarios, Linklater stitches together his moments more seamlessly and less abruptly than before, while using the camera gracefully and weaving his polarising soundtrack with high fidelity.
The cast is outstanding, with standout performances from Blake Jenner, Glen Powell and Juston Street. Each of the players come from legitimate film and television backgrounds, although most of them will remain unfamiliar to average moviegoers. It’s this lack of star-power that lends the film its authenticity and legitimacy. There are no pretensions and every single performer commits fully to the energy and aesthetic of the period. Whether they’re collectively singing “Rapper’s Delight,” boot-scooting at a cowboy nightclub or tearing up the disco dance-floor, the cast’s commitment to the film is praiseworthy.
Add a non-stop stellar soundtrack to the equation and we are faced with one of the year’s best films and arguably the highlight of Richard Linklater’s incredible career. May Everybody Wants Some!! be revered in 20 years’ time the way that Dazed And Confused is now. Outstanding!
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