The Impossible Dream

With the help of new computer-animation technology, Waking Life tackles some age-old riddles of existence

Before sunrise: Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Waking Life
Before sunrise: Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Waking Life

Which, come to think of it, is not a bad description of a dream. And though early reviewers have been unable to avoid calling Waking Life a stoner movie, its examination of consciousness is way more cerebral and potent than recreational users will be able to handle. An eerie menace lurks in the corners of this film--a radical will for liberation and self-knowledge--and it takes over in the last 30 minutes. Total freedom, the movie suggests, can break the moorings that hold us to our bodies and to the Earth. As Linklater himself warns while playing a game of pinball in the film's penultimate scene, "You cannot understand life and live life simultaneously." Hang on.

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