Waking Life (2001)

TOMATOMETER

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.

AUDIENCE SCORE


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

Cast

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+
Variety
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

½

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

½

Boy, now this is a polarizing film. I wouldn't blame or argue with someone if they were to dismiss this film as boring, pretentious, intellectual bullshit. In many ways, that is true. I realize this is not a film for everyone, but I think everyone should still see it anyway. It is good to exercise the brain and participate in or experience philosophical discussions, which is pretty much what this whole film is: a 100 minute plot free series of (not necessarily connected) discussions about various aspects of life, philosophy, and film. I like the animation technique of rotoscoping or filming things live action then drawing over it with wild colors. Linklater later used this same technique for A Scanner Darkly. The result of doing things this way is very surreal, trippy, and dream like, the appropriateness of which I don't think will go over too many peoples' heads. I dug this film quite a lot, and found much to like, but I will be honest and say that I didn't quite grasp everything. Some of it went over my head, and I did get a little restless watching this, but overall, I respect it, especially since it reminded me of the fact that I (though not recently) love sitting down and having conversations like the ones presented here. This is a very unique film with wonderful moments, a lot to chew on, a gorgeous look, and some excellent tunes. Do give this one a chance. Even if you end up hating it, you'll be doing yourself a favor, even if you don't realize it.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Waking Life Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features