Waking Life is a refreshingly original film from writer-director Richard Linklater. Best known for Slacker, Linklater and a team of computer animators have created a movie that ambles between high philosophical concepts and live-action cartoons. The plot structure is pared to a bare minimum: a stranger (Wiley Wiggins) in a small town has episodic encounters with all sorts of characters. Some are pedantic, some are raving, and most engage Wiggins' character with their thoughts on life, freedom, subjectivity, and the like. Then Wiggins moves on. This simplicity allows the visual and verbal fireworks to receive full attention.
Linklater teamed up with animators to transform his digital video footage into a constantly shifting hybrid. Digital artists altered and augmented the video footage with spectacular results. Because the images were based on actual video, they aren't “cartoonish.” They create impressionistic additions to what might otherwise have been a regular art-house flick. Waking Life is concerned with the nature of reality, and from the thought-provoking script to the innovative animation, it provokes both reflection and smiles. One of the season's freshest films.