Slacker 2011

Slacker 2011

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Twenty years ago, Richard Linklater's Slacker broke new ground, bringing experiments with character and narrative into the mainstream and gaining a cult following in the process. Now it has been remade by a series of teams commissioned by the Austin Film Society. Although the new scenes mirror those that went before, the dialogue has been updated and characters and settings subtly altered to represent the concerns of a new age.

It's an interesting idea and, although the quality is variable, overall the production values are high. The acting is adequate and the new dialogue blends in seamlessly. There's also an additional layer of irony that deepens the film's humour - after all, some of those creating this version are the kind of people represented as underachievers in the original.

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Despite this, Slacker 2011 suffers from the same essential flaws as its predecessor. Most of the characters are simply not strong enough to make an impression when we meet them only briefly. At the end, when it's all supposed to be coming together to make retrospective sense, the most we can feel for them is a sort of indulgent affection - those whose identities we can remember at all. In celebrating failure, the film ignores burning questions about the nature of success. Its focus on conspiracy theorists seems designed to ridicule rather than to give any kind of fair hearing, and this incipient spite undermines the feelgood atmosphere it strives for.

Ultimately, the Slacker story feels painfully artificial, a dishonest parody of honest enquiry and as such unable to compete with the many good documentaries about communities like this. Slacker 2011 is stronger than the original because it shows a greater degree of self awareness. It's a good advert for the skills of many of those involved, but it still can't overcome its problematic source material.

Reviewed on: 03 Feb 2012
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A tribute to Richard Linklater's Slacker made by members of the Austin Filmmakers Society.
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Festivals:

Glasgow 2012

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