Philosophy 101
Waking Life
Review by Ross Anthony

This "Cartoon" paints off-tripod reality in hopes of creating a "dream-like" cinema state. Though this goal is "realized," the viewer pays the price of tolerating some shaky visuals. (I had to look away more than once.) Still, in truth, that problem either clears up eventually or the viewer adapts to it.

Sigh. Elsewise, the film takes "My Dinner with Andre" into the university classroom: Philosophy 101. Inspired academics and/or modern day philosophers rant enthusiastically about self vs. society, dream vs. reality, quoting occasionally Aristotle, Sartre, Kierkegaard, etc. slanting towards the existential (which would also be my bias). Yes, there was a time when I waxed philosophic, spending my free hours debating various theories of existence and free will (the film was a bit nostalgic for me). However, the first half offered nothing new (to me), only when the subject of "dream state" dominated did my attentions increase.

Interesting, and near the end -- "eerily moving," but definitely not the kind of thing most cinema-goers will find "entertaining." Though defending itself for not having developed the expected elements of film: story, climax, conflict, an emotion arc etc., this is just not a warm fuzzy date picture. It is rather, almost 90%, unsweetened, undiluted, philosophic rhetoric. Still, if you're in the right mood, it just might make a rental you'd rave about.

One more thing, the remaining 10% (dream-story and music) are very nice. The original 20th century score plays hauntingly apropos - a very sweet piece on its own. I would have liked to have spent more time with the music, flying about from dream to dream.

  • Waking Life. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring: see (but Ethan Hawke has a cameo).
  • Written and Directed by Richard Linklater.
  • Produced by Anne Walker-McBay.

Grade.......................... B(film),B+(rental)

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:49:44 PDT