Indie Spotlight: Waking Life, a micro-ReBrew

I’m not sure if this film really counts as an indie one or not, but it definitely has that sort of indie “feeling” when you see it–of course, when you do see it, you may find yourself asking, “is this all a dream?” In which case, maybe you didn’t see the film at all–or did you?


I purchased this film last December as a Christmas gift for my step-brother, who had already seen it previously and was always telling me about it.  I had yet to see it, but I figured it would open the doors for some good bonding time. That time finally came this evening–a bit late, but better late than never.

I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d enjoy Waking Life at first. I consider myself someone who is preoccupied with the dream realm more than the average individual, and I do enjoy literature that examines literature, but I still wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this movie. The first thirty or so minutes had me leaning to the side of dislike but sticking with it definitely turned out to be rewarding. Some of the dialogue captivated me while other moments had me completely lost, desperately trying to grasp some intangibly abstract (yes, I know that’s redundant) soliloquy.  It felt a bit like a grab-bag of philosophy, where you may get some wisdom you like, but you can also get something you don’t like. Fortunately, I liked parts more than I disliked parts, and chalked the parts that seemed inaccessible to me up to grounds for watching this film again. My step-brother has seen it multiple times and still was amazed at the new and different moments he picked up on.

And if the film’s subject matter isn’t your cup of tea, then perhaps it’s style of cinematography is enough to keep you watching, as each artistic, computer-drawn frame is rotoscoped live action.  Much of the film’s aesthetic quality is as unique, enigmatic, and creative as the dialogue around the question the film poses–something that is definitely rare in modern film today.

This review is a “micro-ReBrew” as I don’t feel entirely qualified to give Waking Life some sort of rating. I’d need to watch it a few more times more critically, and even then I’m not sure if my rating would do it justice. Instead, this micro-review is a more of a recommendation based on my experience and first impressions.  That all being said, it’s a pretty difficult film to recommend. I’d say if you’re a fan of films or documentaries about dreams, you should definitely check it out.  If you admire animation that’s rotoscoped based on live action, it’s also probably worth a gander.

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