Movies

Waking LifeRichard Linklater's exhilarating animated reverie Waking Life is an amazing thing -- a work of cinematic art in which form and structure pursues...Waking LifeAnimationPT99MRRichard Linklater's exhilarating animated reverie Waking Life is an amazing thing -- a work of cinematic art in which form and structure pursues...2001-10-18Fox Searchlight Pictures
Waking Life

(Waking Life: Patrick Thornton)

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Waking Life

Genre: Animation; Starring: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Wiley Wiggins; Director: Richard Linklater; Author: Richard Linklater; Runtime (in minutes): 99; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Richard Linklater’s exhilarating animated reverie Waking Life is an amazing thing – a work of cinematic art in which form and structure pursues the logic-defying (parallel) subjects of dreaming and moviegoing.

This only sounds like a fancy leap for the Austin-based filmmaker who, a decade ago, gave us a bunch of modern-day goof-offs sleepwalking through life in ”Slacker.” In fact, there’s a logic to the sweet illogic of ”Waking Life.” Linklater’s ”Dazed and Confused” player Wiley Wiggins stars – but says little – as a young man who floats, as is only possible in dreamland, from conversation to conversation about the nature of consciousness. He’s in a car that’s also a boat. He’s listening in on the verbal free associations of academics and philosophers, raconteurs and visionaries. (Speed Levitch, the bus tour guide from ”The Cruise,” has his say; so do Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, echoing their all-night chat in Linklater’s ”Before Sunrise.”) Is our protagonist trapped in sleeping life? Or is this inner journey a representation of life at its most intensely conscious?

The gorgeous animation devised by Bob Sabiston and his artists is intrinsic to the film’s mysterious mutability: The team turned live-action footage into a pulsing ribbon of rainbow-colored computer-enhanced images. The result is a thrill, a trip to a fabulous new frontier. If you blink, you’ll miss something amazing – just like in waking life.

Originally posted October 18 2001 — 12:00 AM EDT

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