Waking Life

Writer/director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, A Scanner Darkly) takes the audience on a psychedelic mind-trip into the world of dreaming. A man wanders around in his own dream meeting various people who preach the meaning and purpose of life and has multiple false awakenings in the process. He begins to question what is real and what is fictional and soon wonders if this is the result of death. The cast includes Wiley Wiggins, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Adam Goldberg, Steven Soderbergh, and Richard Linklater himself.

It all comes down to what Linklater was trying to accomplish. Whether it’s due to an abundant flow of ideas and theories or just proof that he handled every drug known to man during his college days, Linklater has a way of drawing his audience into his dream world of distorting illusion and conventional conversations pertaining to evolution, the media, and isolation. The majority of these conversations are contrived and just don’t make much sense. But when the occasional well thought out theory is explained thoroughly, one can’t help but dwell on these perspectives and immediately become enmeshed in Linklater’s world of hypothetical analysis.

The animation is trippy. Objects move when they should be stationary and the characters change shape and colors, even becoming transparent at times. It’s an ambitious work of art with an imaginative glance into the world of surrealism, an hypnotic way of explaining one’s perception of dreams and reality. It’s a film for the thinking crowd, the type of movie that will test your knowledge and proclaim its existence into your memory.

It’s absurd in the fact that the entire film is unpredictable and that random thoughts become rationed out though different perspectives. However, this absurdity is what keeps the film interesting. There’s quite a bit to look at here (a gift to the eyes) and enough to intrigue and bring out inner thoughts about life (a treat to the ears and mind). I can’t say that the film will be completely engaging, but I found most of these principles associated with life to be utterly fascinating.

Linklater has many thoughts crowding his head and this seems like the best way of displaying his loopy mindset and ultimately activating the gears in the viewer’s brain. What Richard Linklater does here is provide a way of dealing with dreams; he put a new brand of animation on the map in the process. In the end, Linklater does justice to the mind and brings something distinctive and new to the table. A standing ovation is required.  4/5 stars

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