USA Today - 10/17/2001
"...A well-crafted personal project..."
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 11/01/2001
"...WAKING LIFE is a tantalizing animated film..."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/26/2001
"...Exhilarating....WAKING LIFE is an amazing thing....A thrill, a trip to a fabulous new frontier..."
Rolling Stone - 11/08/2001
"...Strikingly original....It works like a dream..."
Sight and Sound - 02/01/2002
"...A striking hybrid between live-action footage and computer-generated animation....It succeeds brilliantly as visual experiment..."
Total Film - 05/01/2002
"...[A] beautiful dreamscape....A film with big ideas..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 10/19/2001
"...It celebrates a series of articulate, intelligent characters who seek out the meaning of their existence and do not have the answers....The movie is exhilarating in its style and visuals as in its ideas..."
Director Richard Linklater presents this computer-animated, dreamlike, meandering film about a college-age man (Wiley Wiggins) who floats in and out of a series of philosophical discussions and ethereal experiences, meeting an interesting cast of characters along the way. Each character that Wiley meets engages him in an existential discussion. Wiley listens, observes, and occasionally responds. Then he glumly shuffles off to his next encounter. At times, he wakes up in his bed and rubs his eyes, appearing to start a new day. But eventually viewers learn that Wiley is dreaming throughout the film, and is trying to learn to control his dreams--and accomplish lucid dreaming, or simply wake up.
Visually, WAKING LIFE is nothing short of fantastic. Linklater stays true to his Indie style--jerky camera, drifting gaze, and steady head shots that allow non-actors to talk straight into the camera. To achieve the floating feeling of the dream sequences, he first tried taking aerial shots from a helicopter, then opted for the smoother effect of a hot air balloon. He shot the film on digital video, edited it, then called on 30 animators to finish it. The characters in the film move and gesticulate like live action, but they are animated with odd color schemes and surreal lines that make them cartoony caricatures. WAKING LIFE is a superb work that should be applauded for its atmospheric elements (lovely images of New York and Austin), its amusing bohemian dialogues, and its unique animation.