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July 13, 2006


A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly

"This is a world getting progressively worse. Can we not agree on that?"

Robert Downey, Jr.'s character says this at the start of Linklater's A Scanner Darkly in a failed attempt to help his wigging-out addict friend calm down. It's true--everything is pretty bad in the movie's world: the drugs, the dealers, the cops trying to bust dealers, the rehab clinics, the drug industry, the government. Life is mostly disorientation, paranoia, and manipulation, death is just the recounting of your sins. And like all the best dark movies, this one's both sad and funny.

The cast is great: Keanu can handle roles in which he is confused by multiple identities and realities pretty well (like in The Matrix); Robert Downey, Jr. is hilarious as always and steals a lot of the crazy circular drug talk scenes. Rory Cochrane as Freck has some perfect moments during a long suicide consideration scene; Woody Harrelson almost rivals Matthew McConaughey in stoner freakjob excellence. And this is definitely the best thing Winona Ryder has done since Heathers.

The rotoscoping animation technique allows for some cool visuals (the scramble suit), but in general I found it unnecessary. Weirdly shifting objects that sort of undulate on the screen certainly make the movie look trippier than if it were live action, so maybe that's its main purpose.

I haven't read the book, but my understanding is that it's one of Philip K. Dick's most thematically autobiographical novels, and that the movie sticks closely to it. Dick wrote in an author's note to the book, "I myself? I am not a character in this novel, I am the novel."

The elaborate official site for the movie is surveillance-oriented, it's cool. Also, Charlie Kaufman wrote a screenplay for A Scanner Darkly in 1997, here's a review and a link to his script.

categories: Movies
posted by amy at 12:36 PM | #

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