"Unconscious Youth" drinks from the youthful enthusiasm of the many actors who have debuted this opportunity. It absorbs this energy and portrays it. It draws on the urgency of the teen world and translates that haste to live.
Of youthful features, we see here Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg and some other guys whose film career was shorter. The merit is by Richard Linklater and his director of actors, Don Phillips, whose accurate look led him, for example, to meet film student McConaughey in a bar, where they stayed talking for a few glasses. This is the moment when Woodson is born, the character McConaughey brings to life through a hair-helmet, a thin mustache, and a very fair white t-shirt into pink pants.
Wooderson is no longer even a student at this high school of seventies where the story begins on that last day of classes with the first praxes for future freshmen. But the character of McConaughey is so captivating that it robs almost the protagonism of the film. Richard Linklater also felt it, eventually creating more scenes for Wooderson as the filming took place. And it is when McConaughey returns to the scene, after the death of his father, that a conversation with the director gives rise to the speech scene in the high school field:
"You just gotta keep livin ', man. L-I-V-I-N '.
Wooderson's dialogues are short but his intervention is almost always the look that guides history. At one point, McConaughey sums up the essence of the film by confessing to the fascination it has for high school girls: "I get older, they stay the same age."
The message of "Unconscious Youth" is just this: the passage of time. The themes that afflict young people of green years are all there. The repression of adults. Obligations outside the walls of the school. The need for social approval.
The environment in which "Unconscious Youth" was filmed (according to interviews of the actors and the team) shows that the sensation of fugacity was not only in the plot but in reality. The cast talks about the bonds of friendship created in the filming and Linklater himself tells how he ended up wishing the actors what success they want for a child.
Yes, reality infected fiction. But Richard Linklater could not do this film any other way, or he was not the director who narrates the events of life. Linklater's gaze is expert in capturing the moments that may seem banal to the viewer, but which mean everything to the character, just as we judge every moment as the most important of all life when we are teenagers.
The same youthful enthusiasm is found in Linklater's "Everybody Wants the Same" (2016), a film that was made in the 1980s. The story goes no further than a few days, the last before the university life of a baseball Equally amusing and true, this is yet another story about the anxieties, dilemmas, and dreams of a certain age. (In the words of Ian Dury, "sex and drugs and rock 'n roll / Is all my brain and body need.")
Make no mistake about it. The repetition is not boring but rather confirms Linklater's biographical capabilities. The same abilities that the director used in "Before the Dawn" (1995). And it surprises that this film has not been suggested for the list of 30 before the 30 … After all, the story of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) is an indie classic.
Linklater knows how to maneuver the simplicity of these true moments, those that are part of us. But that year 1993, "Unconscious Youth" was barely a flop at the box office, to which some disagreements with the studio, Universal Pictures, have also contributed.
It seems strange the initial failure of a film with such high soundtrack: from Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath, to ZZ Top or Lynyrd Skynyrd, just missing the original Led Zeppelin "Dazed and Confused" (for lack of consent of the band).
"Unconscious Youth" went straight to the shelf of cult films, but it is curious to find here actors who are among the most sought after in Hollywood. When he received the Oscar for "The Dallas Club" (2013), Matthew McConaughey could not resist releasing two catchphrases from Wooderson. "Alright, alright, alright." Twenty years after that first movie.
The decade changes but the lesson is the same. The same one we learned from "Unconscious Youth" and their cigarette hippies at the corner of their mouths; with the nerds in panic for going to a party; with athletes who profess freedom against the tyranny of the coach; with the freshmen who flee from the practice but come back full of hope in the look.
The lesson is the same one we learned from the meeting between Jesse and Céline.
The lesson is the same one we learned from the twists and turns that Mason's life is giving in "Boyhood – Moments of One Life" (2014).
The lesson is always the same: time is passing, in a gerund that has to be enjoyed in every moment.
In Woodersoon's philosophy, "just keep livin '".
See more in Filipa Moreno's blog.