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A Scanner Darkly


  02:58:47 pm, by Nimble   , 389 words  
Categories: Reviews, Movies

A Scanner Darkly

Link: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B000JMK6LW?ie=UTF8&tag=thecerealkill-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=B000JMK6LW

I missed this in its theatrical run, to my dismay, but it works just fine on the small screen.

Here is a movie that is perennially confusing up until close to the end, where the plot does actually get pulled together.

It's based on a Philip K. Dick story, though not as well done as blockbusters based on his stories like Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) or Minority Report.

The movie is visually striking because it is pretty much fully rotoscoped, akin to the way it was done in Waking Life. Particularly striking are the "scramble suits", which maintain anonymity at the police station.

This is set in a near future where a new drug, Substance D, has soaked into the drug scene. Highly addictive, its users slowly accrue some mental troubles, like hallucinations, but then have their hemispheres split to a degree, and in particular, their left hemispheres degrade.

The movie follows an undercover police officer, ostensibly set up as a dealer, who shares his household with a bevy of other drug users. (It seems oddly appropriate to have Robert Downey Jr. playing one of those drug users, based on his history of drug use)

Barris (played by Robert Downey Jr.) is smart, talks a mile a minute like a sort of lucid Rain Man, Freck (Rory Cochrane) seems to be just short of having his brain shut down, Luckman (Woody Harrelson) seems to be just plain high and dopey.

Some of the more enjoyable parts of the movie are from exchanges between the members of this crew. The heated argument about the 18-speed bike is amongst the more enjoyable :)

I felt confused throughout most of the movie, although I did enjoy it somewhat. I constantly felt like I must be missing some reference or implication. The punchline did come, and it was pretty good, but there were a lot of unanswered questions, it seemed. The main character often thinks he has two little ones. There's a flashback which vaguely implies things, but the implication itself seems more unlikely once you get to the punchline. What happened to his family?

I wonder: did the high cost of rotoscoping the movie convinced them to leave some explanatory pieces out?

All in all, an interesting if confusing movie.

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