This is your worst nightmare. You are dazed and confused and keep meeting intense academic types in the street. You don't know why they want to lecture you on the metaphysical meaning of dreams, but they do. You couldn't care less, because their language is waffly and you don't understand a word of it.

Occasionally you levitate, which is cool, because they can't unravel the secrets of the id when you're half way to the ceiling. A man says, "The worst mistake you can make is to think that you are alive when, in fact, you are asleep in life's waiting room." Instead of dismissing him as a deranged idiot, you stand there like some disciple, measuring his vibe count on the wowmaster.

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Dreams are weird and you are in a dream, which is why everything is wobbly. Some might call this animation, but it's not really. The film was shot with real actors and then coloured in afterwards. The result is reminiscent of a moving Impressionist picture, painted by a drunk.

There is no story. Wiley Wiggins wanders about suburbia in what is probably Austin, Texas, although there are indications that New York's involved somewhere. Tedious people accost him with their ideas. Occasionally, a new character turns up on his/her own and delivers bland/violent opinions. There is a politician driving through deserted streets, blahing garbage through a microphone, and a prisoner in a cell, shouting obscenities at the four walls. Are they connected? Whooooo knows.

A recognisable Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who were in Before Sunrise together, are affectionate in bed. Instead of doing what people do between the sheets, they talk. "We are telepathically sharing our experiences," one of them says. The brain can take only so much misinformation. You have to switch off.

After the bar-room bore and the pretentious novelist, levels of sanity reach breaking point. "I keep thinking I'm waking up, but I can't," a multi-coloured Wiggins says. "It seems to go on forever." He's not lying.

This is the work of writer/director Richard Linklater, who amazed festival groupies with Slacker, his hilarious documentary-style ensemble debut, in 1991. It seems that he needs to take himself less seriously and come back into the land of the living.

Waking Life is so far up his colon, only a surgeon can save it.

Reviewed on: 15 Nov 2001
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Rotoscope hero attempts to divine the meaning of life through his dreams.
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David Stanners ***1/2

Director: Richard Linklater

Writer: Richard Linklater

Starring: Wiley Wiggins, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Charles Gunning, Adam Goldberg, Steven Soderbergh, Richard Linklater

Year: 2001

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US,


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