Richard Linklater – dream is destiny (3 stars)

Richard Linklater – dream is destiny

Louis Black shines a spotlight on the beloved director of Boyhood and Dazed and Confused

One of modern cinema's most tenacious talents finds his own life under the lens in Louis Black's feature debut, co-directed with Karen Bernstein. Richard Linklater – dream is destiny is a respectful, insightful if unremarkable documentary. In its efforts to keep things concise the film struggles to adequately encompass Linklater's significant body of work, however it draws from a variety of impressive sources – A-list interviewees, family members, behind-the-scenes footage, journal entries and home movies – as it charts his evolution as a director.

We witness Linklater's early experiments in filmmaking as he waited for his technical abilities to catch up with his ideas, learn how he left behind the 'Pine Curtain' to make hive-of-creativity Austin his home, and hear about the frustrations of securing funding (a problem that persists to this day) including his disappointing dalliances with studio financiers. A picture emerges of trials and tribulations that will be familiar to many less fortunate filmmakers, although – Kevin Smith's comments aside – this documentary fails to satisfactorily position Linklater within the US indie film scene.

Black (co-founder of The Austin Chronicle and one of the founders of SXSW) is an occasionally visible but largely anonymous presence; thankfully Linklater himself makes for an engaging and earnest interviewee. The inclusion of Roger Ebert's verdicts are a nice touch as they illustrate how Linklater's work has been received critically, with low points featured alongside highs. Refreshingly honest recollections from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy add colour, while effusive contributions from Matthew McConaughey, Patricia Arquette and Jack Black reinforce Linklater's reputation as an actor's director and expert collaborator, who somehow remains unerring in his vision.

In fact, Linklater is shown to be a mass of wonderful contradictions: a filmmaker whose lack of studio support has forced him to the peripheries, where his furious creativity has nevertheless allowed him to thrive; a man who ostensibly epitomises the laidback, grungy spirit of the early 90s, but who is as driven as they come; and whose association with the low-key belies his status as a cinematic risk-taker. Linklater's reverence for the everyday and the eloquence of his execution have made him a filmmaker for the ages, so this celebration of his achievements is welcome, even if it doesn't really do him justice.

Selected release from Fri 4 Nov.

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 33min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Louis Black/Karen Bernstein
  • Cast: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
  • UK release: 4 November 2016

Feature-length documentary on Richard Linklater, one of modern cinema's most tenacious talents. Linklater is an engaging and earnest interviewee and there are refreshing and honest contributions from Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and other collaborators. A welcome celebration, even if it doesn't really do justice to its subject.