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A young man’s quest to discover the difference between being awake and dreaming. Which state is he in now? He meets dozens of characters; can anyone snap him out of it? What would he snap out of? Is he dead, maybe? If he’s dreaming, why can’t he wake up? Or …

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Creatively exciting, Waking Life takes the cinematic medium to a new dimension, combining live action with animation in a totally new way. Shot in a conventional live action mode, the film was meticulously re-worked by hand as each frame was painted over by various artists, in a bank of computers. The result is at both stimulating and frustrating. It is stimulating and engaging with its ability to break down the reality of faces and settings with the fluidity of painting. Something like impressionistic images result, but what is lost is clearly defined characters with whom we can take this journey. On the intellectual side, the script canvasses existential notions about our waking and dreaming states, and some of the (wordy) dialogue is more interesting as philosophy than cinema. Still, I don’t mind that in a film which has such confidence in its own art and which uses the very notion of its premise as the driver of the medium of delivery. In other words it uses this morphing animation as a part of its exploration of the waking state. Clever, sometimes funny, always intriguing, Waking Life is a wonderful experiment that should be developed.

Review by Louise Keller:
An exploration of words and emotions - real and imaginary - Waking Life is animation as you've never seen it before. Visually and structurally unique, Richard Linklater has taken a live action film, edited it and with the assistance of 30 computer animators, graphically painted each frame. The resulting impressionist-like animated painting is an intriguing mix of stimulating ideas and images that take us on a trip of awakening. The characters have an eerie visual resemblance to real actors, but their nose may not move when the rest of their face does, and the shadings are more like those in an artist’s workshop, rather than facial shadows. The story? There is none – just fleeting moments of people we meet and their emotions. The topics range from the minutiae of life – like drying halapinos in the microwave – to great profundities – like are we asleep in life's waiting room? With the exception of the central character (Wiley Wiggins), we meet each character once and then move on to the next character. I initially found it hard to concentrate on what was being said, because the visuals take priority, and anyone who is interested in art, will surely be fascinated. Wiggins is caught up in a Groundhog Day-like dream, and he doesn't seem to be able to get out of it. As time passes, it becomes clear that it's not just us that moves. The whole world moves – like a song, a piece of music, a dance, an interlude. So don't be surprised if the walls move, the steps, the flowers… Waking Life is an extraordinary film, whether you love it, are frustrated or confused by it. Intellectually, there is enough to engage - even without the animation. You can dream along with the images, or open your mind and be stimulated. Or a bit of both. Do stay for the credits: they are like living creatures that dance on screen as they move, shrink, stretch and wiggle. And to top it off, they are married with innovation with a full visual run down of the cast.

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CAST: Wiley Wiggins, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Steven Soderbergh, Richard Linklater

DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater

PRODUCER: Palmer West, Jonah Smith, Tommy Pallota, Anne Walker-McBay

SCRIPT: Richard Linklater

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Richard Linklater, Tommy Pallota

EDITOR: Sandra Adair

MUSIC: Glover Gill


RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 7, 2002 - Sydney, Melbourne, Perth. Other States to follow

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: September 13, 2002

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