Midway through Slacker’s loose collection of mostly-unrelated vignettes, a girl wanders into a dusty bookstore and idly peruses a paperback pertaining to JFK’s assassination. As she flips through the pages, another customer sidles up to her and reveals himself as a classmate of hers (almost every character in Slacker is a university student), and discusses his plans to write a comprehensive manifesto about JFK titled – naturally – “Conspiracy-A-Go-Go.” The girl noncommittally nods and smiles before politely excusing herself.
This scene is Slacker in microcosm; eloquent crazies expanding upon their detailed, intricate theories to listeners who range from politely disinterested to actively engrossed. The movie was originally titled The Nobody Boy but, really, Conspiracy-A-Go-Go would’ve been an appropriate title. Slacker’s title suggests a film populated with idle freeloaders ambling about aimlessly. Instead, there’s a simmering discontentment bubbling, a rejection of the establishment expressed not in protest nor futile rage but as polite conversation.
The film’s subject matter is maintains interest without a structured narrative, but Linklater’s easy direction (belying the substantial effort behind filming) and assured use of lazy long takes is the best reason to watch, demonstrating the talent that would be anchored to a more straightforward story in Before Sunset.