As you watch Linklater, moving around his beautiful land deep in his native Austin, Texas, you notice he ticks all the boxes. Relaxed, amiable, informed, and understated; that’s Linklater all right. And to some extent this documentary has no ambition to alter the stereotype. Black and Bernstein’s film is a glorious sponge for the endless thoughts pouring out of the filmmaker.
Yet there is more to it than simply intellectual conversation. Black, co-director and long-time friend of Linklater, adds an authentic and friendly spine to this introspective tale. Through their familiarity, Black can bring out the best in Linklater as the director feels free to wax lyrical about his triumphs and values. In doing so, the image of an idle genius evolves into a portrait of an utterly driven and focused individual. A man who deeply cares for the art he makes.
Positivity and insight are a wondrous pair, but it would have been good to hear more of the latter, especially surrounding the blotches on his CV. Bar a five-minute montage, little is said on the back-to-back misfires he experienced between 2005 and 2008.
That being said, the myriad famous individuals lining up to praise him only convince you that maybe these faults were simply out of his hands. Messages from Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, and, in particular, Ethan Hawke add useful flavour to the dish. In particular it’s Hawke’s confession over the importance of Before Sunset in his own life, saving him from his demons, that lands. That’s when the true impact and quality of Linklater becomes beautifully evident.
To those indifferent to the Texan: a humble recommendation to look elsewhere. Yet to fans of Linklater, welcome to paradise. This is an enjoyable and insightful, albeit light-touch, dive into the work of a fascinating individual.
DIRECTORS: Louis Black, Karen Bernstein
SYNOPSIS: A feature documentary on the life and work of filmmaker Richard Linklater.