Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Tyler Hoechlin, Zoey Deutch and Ryan Guzman
Running Time: 117 minutes
Release Date: May 13th
The source of any good coming-of-age story lies in the soundtrack, because such films are primarily about nostalgia, and when it comes to triggering such a feeling, there are few sensorial experiences, in cinematic terms that are capable of rivalling music. Nostalgia in fiction though can be split into two major categories. There is nostalgia as a plot device, in which we delve into a central character’s memories as a sensory experience takes them back to specific moments in their life, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, and Marcel Proust’s A la recherché du temps perdu being two fine examples. Then there is Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!, which is not actually about a character experiencing nostalgia, but rather, about inducing such a sensation in the heart of the viewer.
This is particularly challenging when you consider that a large chunk of Linklater’s following was barely a glint in the eyes of their fathers, way back yonder in August and September of 1980. However, that fact hardly matters once the film kicks off, because this, his latest work is a mood piece, evoking certain emotions as opposed clear memories. Right from the opening shot of a young man riding his slick car along a Texan road college-bound, the back seat loaded with a suitcase and stack of records, while The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ plays on the stereo, the scene might not be totally relatable, but the feeling certainly is. You did not drive that car, or look the way he looked, but you can recognise the free-spiritedness, contradicted by a subtle desire to look the part as you prepare to enter a new phase in life.
Labelled as both a spiritual sequel to 1993’s Dazed and Confused and 2014’s Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!! is once again, another laid-back hang-out film. Focussed chiefly on vignettes in the lead up to the first college lectures, the point of this film is to get a direct sense of entering a new realm, convoluted almost in its suggestion of new possibilities, and exhilarating for that reason. Told from the perspective of Jake, a freshman who is entering a Texan college mainly owing to his gift as a pitcher on his high school baseball team, when we first meet him, he is attempting to fit into his new household, occupied by various members of his new team.
Made from a variety of eccentric characters; intensely competitive jocks, philosophical outsiders, wet-behind-the-ear newcomers, wild drinkers and gifted social climbers, the initial point to be established is that the high-school days are over. Jake is no longer the most popular guy around, he is no longer the most gifted athlete in the building, he is back to being nobody and so, with the air of superiority gone, he becomes relatable once more. That is quite important, especially since Linklater, though a former baseballer himself, appeals to an indie crowd, not known for their sporting prowess.
Returning to square one, and finished with his old hierarchies, Jake is just like every other freshman. Once the best, now almost average as he lives amongst a crowd of people, who were also all once number one in their school. Stripped of this ego and hungry to find his new self, he explores the different facets of college life, experiencing something new every night. Whether it is at a disco, or in a punk club, getting high, or attending a drama society’s themed party, he is now open to each new possibility, he wants to see it all, and for a short while, he will be permitted to do so.
Stylised to fit the era, but the reality heightened to glamorise the sensation of a first week in college, Everybody Wants Some!! strikes a nice balance in how it combines both the 1980’s American culture of narcissism and a total lack of self-confidence. It does not attempt to take itself too seriously. It is just about having a good time. Yet, in saying this, Everybody Wants Some!! also wants to ask the audience, how long can a good time last and do you really believe that only a few specific phases in your life are actually constructed to be enjoyed?