Director: Richard Linklater
Screenwriters: Eric Bogosian

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Directed by Richard Linklater and written by Eric Bogosian, SubUrbia is an extraordinary blend of the disparate visions of two celebrated observers of pop culture and disaffected youth. From the opening credits of strip malls and tract homes to the more eclectic images, like a new television set perched on top of the old console because it is too big or someone is too apathetic to remove it, SubUrbia seduces you with a cinematic style that captures the dark heart of middle America.

In this case it’s personified by a group of kids, who converge at the local convenience store. Jeff is the poet and thinker and Sooze his artsy punk girlfriend anxious to get to New York and make her mark. Her friend Bee-Bee is fresh from rehab, as opposed to Buff, who will smoke and drink anything with adolescent gusto. Then there is Tim, the tattooed, quick-tempered brooder who actually made it out, as far as the army, but is now back and bitter. As if under a magnifying glass, things are beginning to heat up in the fluorescent lights of the parking lot when a stretch limo announces the triumphant return of Pony, one of the gang who is now a neophyte rock star. They may seem stereotypical at first, but skewed by the detail of their characterizations, combined with the strength of the performances from an outstanding cast, this group is actually a microcosm of modern alienated youth.

Eric Bogosian’s words mesh flawlessly with Richard Linklater’s detailed hypervision of suburban America. Based on Bogosian’s play SubUrbia, the film soars over the common pitfalls of play-to-screen hybrids. Using the same eye he turned on a small Texas town in Dazed and Confused, Linklater is still comic and insightful, but Bogosian’s story and near-poetic language take this view of suburban angst to a new level. Love, fear, loss, even racism, but mostly their dreams are all subjects of scrutiny by these young people as they try to figure out the lives they are leading without guidance but not without hope. SubUrbia is a superb film that should become a classic.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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