Waking Life (2001)


A nameless young man walks out from a bus station calling his friend from a phone looking for a ride and in come a man dressed as a sea captain driving a boat/car. That’s where the journey begins as the man talks about philosophy which the boy merely disregards as yammering. A young boy in a dream world confronts characters who impart philosophical and existential ideas upon him forcing him to come to grips with his own purpose and existence. What he doesn’t know is where he’s going which the man is talking about in front of him. I was intrigued by where this movie was going and became truly engulfed within the context and meaning of the film itself.

Richard Linklater takes a step up from a simple nostalgic dramedy to this philosophical conundrum that is never truly given an answer. The whole movie itself and the people within the scenes never giving the audience an answer but simply give us more and more questions to ponder forcing us to draw our own conclusions. I was completely breath taken by the incredibly thought provoking philosophy and monologues the characters arose to as this young boy now is immersed in, what seems like a dream state, though is never truly sure or given a definite answer. Throughout the film, he asks people for answers, never knowing that they themselves are within the dream. The people within the movie’s dreary dream sequences beg so many philosophical and idealistic questions, my favorite being, are we really alive searching for a dream, or are we simply dreaming searching for life?

Each character dares to ask that question through many forms and topics of conversation but never come up with the answer and in the end are simply back to their natural lives thinking over and over. The movie plays out like a dream itself, senselessly drifting from one scene to another, one vista to another, never giving any purpose to itself. The animation is also a riddle which the director asks very subtly: Is the animation a different form of expressing the movie, or is it supposed to symbolize and further emphasize the dream-like state this boy is in? I enjoy watching movies that dare to challenge the mind and debate many topics, especially religion and god which this movie does in fact do. The character of the young boy himself is not a solid defining individual, but merely a dreamer and observer, never truly taking anything from his experiences but only asking more and more questions never coming up with a defining answer. Like us. This is a brilliant film that provokes thought, idea, and conversations within the audience through its surreal animation and incredibly profound conversations. Linklater is a truly underrated director.