Monday 16 May 2011

A Scanner Darkly – Richard Linklater (2006)

The first thing you’ll notice is the visuals.  Linklater uses interpolated rotoscope, animating the film in a unique, pop-art style.  It’s disconcerting at first but fits the theme of psychosis – the actors are clearly recognisable yet totally fabricated.  Downey Jnr in particular gives a comic performance that percolates through the artistry.  This distinctive technique is the future of animation.

It’s based on a novel by Philip K Dick of Bladerunner fame.  In a dystopian and not-too-distant future, Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop sent to uncover an illegal drug operation of the obscure ‘substance D’.  Drug abuse and its impact on the mind, is central to the film, the protagonists consumed in chaotic unreality.  Perhaps this chaos is intentional, but the plot is overly confusing and difficult to follow.  With the mesmerising visuals, the film feels like a crazy drug-induced yet dissatisfying dream. 

A typical case of style over substance.


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