The irony lies in the fact that as against derogatory usage of the term ‘slacker’, these two twenty-somethings come across as thoughtful, perceptive, politically aware and have their own rational philosophies of life. Based on these qualities, the audience is forced to re-evaluate negative connotations of slacking. Herein lies the artistry of the genre, whereby, beneath apparent rootlessness, confusion, purposelessness and apathy shown by the characters, there is a well-formed personality to go along with well-informed life-style choices. Upon realising this fact at moments in the passage of film, the audience adjust and readjust their understanding of who the on-screen characters are. This is a far-cry from run-of-the-mill productions from major American studios, where the emphasis is more on plot, suspense and eventual denouement as opposed to character exploration and open-ended narrative threads.
Divergent as the slacker genre might be from well-trodden genres, it is a testament to its authenticity that its legacy continues even today. Reviews of the film that appeared immediately after its release tended to bracket it along side such popular genres as Date Film or Chick Flick. But what dismantles such convenient classifications are later (more detailed) analyses from young and old critics alike of diverse sexual orientations and political persuasions. All of them were able to concur on the originality and innovativeness in the film. (Wood, 1998, p.324) Critic Eric Syngle’s analysis of Before Sunrise is full of heart-felt appreciation for the ingenuity of the project – much of which applies to the sequel as well. In Syngle’s case, his critical appraisal is colored by his own subjective personal experience of watching the movie as a teenager. But that does not dilute the validity of some of the observations he makes. The following words written by Syngle serve as a suitable summary of Richard Linklater’s contribution to the creation of this exciting new genre:
“As Richard Linklater’s name rose to general recognition, it came tied (and still is, to some extent) to the American Independent scene. With time, however, it has become clear that his links to that school of filmmaking aren’t nearly as important as his divergences, especially in the sensitive humanist ethos that guides his films and his complete disregard for the juggernaut of hipness—whether trendsetting or trend-chasing—that plagues so many filmmakers. (“Slacker” may have been a Gen-X buzzword in the early Nineties, but that’s as far as it went.) Before Sunrise is a blend of poetic realism, Nouvelle Vague youthfulness and spontaneity, but mainly classical Hollywood plotting and construction must have seemed about as cool as Pat Boone in comparison. Who, young or old, Hollywood or indie, made films this embarrassingly sincere anymore, or this unabashedly romantic?” (Syngle, 2004)
Wood, Robin (1998). Sexual Politics and Narrative Film: Hollywood and Beyond. Columbia University Press. p.324.
Dan Jardine (January 11th, 2010), Before Sunrise and Before Sunset: Laden with Happiness and Tears, published in Film
Erik Syngle (Summer 2004), ‘Love Me Tonight ’, published in Before Sunrise Reverse Shot’s Richard Linklater symposium.
Before Sunrise (1995), Feature film Produced by Castle Rock Entertainment, currently distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Before Sunset (2004), Feature film Produced by Richard Linklater, distributed by Warner Independent Pictures.