"Waking Life" was a bizarre exploration into various attempts made at reaching a conclusive definition of the phenomenon of dreaming as well as addressing deeper ontological questions that has long since plagued mankind. The approaches taken in story-telling style and aesthetic format lent to the composition of a rather ethereal blend of ideas presented for the consumption of the audience.

The film had at its foundation a stream of consciousness narrative style. Though there appeared some semblance of a continuing story throughout the entirety of the piece, the series of events in the film transpired in not so much a logical or sequential fashion as they did through a cognitive progression of associations. Complex thoughts and concepts were presented to the viewer sometimes as lectures delivered by an expert in the related field but most often as casual conversations encountered by the protagonist or an anonymous voyeur. The portrayal of the near-constant barrage of intellectual discourse as commonplace everyday occurrences rendered the string of events in the storyline as surrealistic yet profound.

The adoption of animation as its format added a dream-like quality to the viewing experience, thus adding another dimension to the tale by making the story-telling medium itself similar to the very phenomenon under investigation. With its constantly shifting backdrop and whimsically cartoon-y peripheral animations, abstract ideas were made that much more concrete, being graphically depicted before the audience in an environment that was clearly not static and yet somehow cerebral at the same time. Couple this with the fact that more than a score of animators added their personal touch to the way the characters and scenery were visually represented and what is conveyed to the viewer is the message that identity may not be static but can still remain distinguishable.

The integration of the visual style with the stream of consciousness approach of the narrative combine to form a movie experience that compels the viewer to engulf himself in not only the questions that arise in the story but in the metaphysical environment those questions foster. Throughout the course of the movie, the question "Am I dreaming?" was constantly posed as a test against subjective reality. With the unconventional storytelling style, the dynamic animation approach, and the weighty discussions encountered, the viewer is left with the impression that he himself could have possibly slipped into a dream-state and is questioning the reality he finds himself in.