Waking Life (2001)


Critic Consensus: Waking Life's inventive animated aesthetic adds a distinctive visual component to a film that could easily have rested on its smart screenplay and talented ensemble cast.


Want to See

Not Interested

Add Rating
My Rating    

Movie Info

A boy has a dream that he can float, but unless he holds on, he will drift away into the sky. Even when he is grown up, this idea recurs. After a strange accident, he walks through what may be a dream, flowing in and out of scenarios and encountering various characters. People he meets discuss science, philosophy and the life of dreaming and waking, and the protagonist gradually becomes alarmed that he cannot awake from this confusing dream.

Watch it now


News & Interviews for Waking Life

Critic Reviews for Waking Life

All Critics (141) | Top Critics (34)

This inventive animated film, which takes Linklater back to his roots in Austin and Slacker, represents a summation of all the philosophical concerns that have defined him as spokesperson for Gen-X.

Oct 31, 2006 | Rating: B+
Top Critic

The endless philosophising is a bit sophomoric and more jokes would help, but this is one of a kind that grows more absorbing the longer it runs.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

For a movie heralded as the cutting edge of visual innovation, Waking Life is disappointingly dull in every other respect.

Nov 6, 2002 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

If there was ever a film that made ontological exploration fun, this is it.

Jan 22, 2002

Exhilarating, transporting, funny and haunting -- and at times maddeningly heady or narcotically logy -- Waking Life doesn't compare to any other movie experience I've ever had.

Dec 5, 2001

An instant cult classic, one that's tailor-made for multiple viewings and bound to be popular among college students.

Nov 8, 2001

Audience Reviews for Waking Life

The animation keeps interesting what Linklater's live-action Slacker didn't always, and it helps that, to some extent, the conversations in this film have a theme. It's engrossing, a real trip.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


As with "Slacker", some of the pieces will likely feel more underwhelming depending on the viewer, but as a compilation of concepts and emotions all tied together through the common theme of dreams, "Waking Life" is a much more enjoyable and mature film than "Slacker" in both content and form, an existential rollercoaster that encapsulates all of Linklater's work up until that point (almost literally), while almost daring himself to top it. With this film, though, Linklater's genius as a thinker finally seems to escape its shackles, just as "Before Sunrise" unleashed him as a storyteller who works beyond limitations.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

A fuck for all senses.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

Basically an animated sequel to Linklater's debut (Slacker). Very impressive.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Waking Life Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features