Take “Before Sunset,” subtract love story, convert all conversation topics to existentialism, spread conversations between hundreds of characters in minute-long vignettes, add trippy animation, and voila: You have “Waking Life”! You can definitely tell that this is a Richard Linklater film from its conversational style. Rather than being tied together by a plot or a small group of characters, the film is tied together by the existential conversations of its hundred unnamed characters. As a result it feels too disjointed for my taste. This film requires a lot of focus in order to wrap your mind around its high-brow philosophical concepts, especially since there is basically no reprieve from the constant flow of ideas. The conversations will truly challenge your mind, but it’s a lot to digest during a 100-minute movie. The film is immediately recognizable from its surreal rotoscoping animation technique. There is truly no other movie that looks like this one. While the visual appeal is a strong point of the movie, there are definitely points where the film would work better as a book on tape so that you could focus on the concepts without being distracted by the images. With so many surreal philosophical concepts, “Waking Life” makes it difficult to be sure about anything… lest one thing: This movie is entirely unlike any other that you will ever see.
[Pictured: Every frame is a work of art]