Waking Life ★★★

Like the picture itself, I’m just going to convey some of my impressions really quickly. The untitled main character of Waking Life finds himself in a perpetual state of lucid dreaming, but it soon becomes clear that the dream he’s stuck in is no ordinary one: this is the dream, one that will change everything about the way he perceives, experiences and directs his life once he finally wakes up from it (if ever). It consists of brief separate conversations between himself and random figures who shoot philosophical thoughts at him, ranging from abstract existentialism to more accessible life-choice analyses. We see our protagonist evolve, learning to control his dream and take a more prominent stance in it. Whereas the others around him at first drown him in their thoughts, he slowly begins to react to what is said to him and, in the end, turning his own questions into the leading ones. The whole episode is created from vector animation, which dizzies its viewer, but which is also a way of centralising the dreaming experience. The art direction resonates with what is happening at that moment: when the dream loses its lucidity, the visuals take more absurd proportions and we, for example, see people clearly walking along a footpath, yet the background doesn’t seem to move an inch. There are guest appearances of Linklater’s favoured actors and actresses, including Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and his daughter Lorelei Linklater. At first, this seems merely cute, but when you think about it, it may also mean that Waking Life portrays one of Linklater’s personal experiences and that this dream might be one of his own (or is meant to look like one), in which those people would naturally occur. Overall, I’d say that my interest was fluctuating too much with each conversation to call this a masterpiece, but clearly Linklater has again succeeded in bringing something unforgettable to the screen.

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