Saturday, November 7, 2009

Waking Life

Released: 2001

Reviewed: 11.2.09
Star rating: 1 out of 5

Wiley Wiggins (Main Character), Bill Wise (Boat Car Guy), Ethan Hawke (Jesse), Julie Delpy (Celine), Adam Goldberg (One of 4 men), Caveh Zahedi (Himself), Kim Krizan (Herself).

Not knowing if he is conscious or dreaming, this animated film follows a nameless young man as he floats in and out of philosophical discussions with a variety of scholars, eccentrics, and other interesting characters. With conversations ranging from the mundane to profound, the film can be interesting, disturbing, confusing, or humorless.

Where the summary is slightly inaccurate is in describing the film as a series of discussions. In actuality the main character has very few conversations and spends more of his time being lectured by the characters he encounters. Most of them seem to be trying to impart fairly simple principles with elaborately flowered speech. The result is somewhere between indignation, confusion, and revelation.

Rating this one was a challenge. While the concept was interesting, I have to break things apart because I couldn't actually watch the video. The animation had characters in the foreground detached from the background which floated and wiggled aimlessly. Mixed with shaky, jerky, quick movements the result left me alternating between naseau and having a migraine so I had to listen to the audio without the video. For animation and video this one gets a big fat zero.

Audio was a bit better with some interesting speeches from some interesting characters. I actually enjoy how Adam Goldberg talks and several of the speeches were somewhat profound and thought provoking. That said, the downside was their presentation as absolute without any questioning. There was also a prevalent feeling of grandstanding throughout the film. For that, the content, it gets 2 stars.

Overall I think this one is going to appeal to an extremely narrow audience with specific interests in either animation or philosophy. Combined with foul language and a few violent images, this one gets 1 star and can be viewed by teens and above.

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