Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Alex Jones
Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out the whole damn thing. Not only grappling with issues raised in the film, but also, how did Richard Linklater go from fun but not terribly important films like Slacker and Dazed And Confused to such a profound work as Waking Life? Linklater’s newest film is a far cry from the films he made his name on; the film explores issues of life and reality in ways never handled on film before. The film almost defies classification, as it is a surreal-animated-documentary-narrative. It is difficult to describe and even tougher without giving away a great deal of the fun. But the film involves the protagonist interacting with a number of different people as they discuss the meaning of life and dreams. At times they are talking directly to him, in other cases, he is merely a voyeur. Julie Delpy, vitriolic, radical talk show host Alex Jones, Linklater, and a number of his friends all appear in rotoscoped animated form.
This is not really one of those films that you love every frame of. The first third of the movie you fluctuate between waiting for it to get to the point and trying to figure out the animation techniques. The middle third you start to get into the flow of the film, coincidentally about the same time the main character starts to get a handle on things and you spend the final third hoping the film doesn’t fall apart, which it does not. It is, however, an experience you are not likely to forget. The film raises more questions than it answers. Questions you’ll be asking yourself and anyone else who’ll listen, especially if they’ve seen the movie as well. You’ll find yourself wanting to read and re-read Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Phillip K. Dick, or tune into Alex Jones’ radio show. Hell, Linklater even makes Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke interesting. Waking Life isn’t just a film that makes you think, it makes you question your own existence.