In Everybody Wants Some, nostalgia equals regression

If one was judging the tone and character of Richard Linklater’s filmography off Everybody Wants Some!!, they’d be likely to not guess that this is the same person that wrote a character like the Before trilogy’s Celine, a thoughtful and complex character who is arguably the protagonist of that series. It’s always worth acknowledging context when viewing a film – the recent conversation about campus rape was never going to make anything depicting nothing but a weekend of male sexual entitlement and debauchery a comfortable watch – but Everybody Wants Some (a film undeserving of those two exclamation points) doesn’t possess any of Linklater’s usual cohesion in its aimlessness. The two hours feels slow at best, tedious at worst – a film, of course, doesn’t need to have anything ‘happen’ to work, but combine the conceit of the film, which is literally a pack of 18-year-old mostly white men on their first weekend at college, drinking, ogling girls, and participating in vaguely (unintentionally?) homoerotic rituals, and things start to get strained. Depiction doesn’t necessarily equal endorsement, of course, but when the regressive politics here are openly embraced and not even vaguely criticised, it begins to get tenuous. Linklater is one of the most reliable directors in American cinema, typically attune and conscious to different viewpoints in his work and shaping a satisfying emotional conclusion out of little more than an ephemeral feeling like infatuation or regret. But as the film rolls another scene set to the sounds of The Knack or Blondie without much reason, it becomes apparent that Everybody Wants Some has little more going for it than the type of 70s nostalgia that has become an easy selling point for films. Don’t get me wrong, on the nose soundtracks that undoubtedly ate 3/4 of your budget before you rolled the cameras are great and fun. But you know what else is great? Having more than one female character with a name. That’s one way to show that your film isn’t languishing in the gender politics of the 1970s.

Rating: 2/5

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