A Scanner Darkly


Viewed – 23 October 2009  DVD

Wow.  This was a wierd one.  I rented this as I felt I had been neglecting the career of my favourite actress, namely Winona Ryder, and had heard many positive things about this sci-fi yarn based on a Philip K Dick short story, and co-starring Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr.  Now one of the immediate points of interest in this movie is it’s animated ‘look’, a process where the whole movie is actually filmed with regular actors, locations etc … then given an animated post-processing style to create the look of an animated movie.  This being my only experience of such a process, I have to say it is both startling and bonkers.

scannerdarkly

Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop in a not-too-distant future who becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.  This was a difficult film to like for several reasons, firstly it has a group of mostly unlikable odd-ball characters that I guess are meant to be lovable loosers but come off more as annoying loosers, with no direction but screwing each other over, and secondly Keanu wears a wierd disguise that hides his identity, which is an interesting but mind-bending effect showing the character’s appearance changing every second.  Now apart from the obvious visual style that does earn this movie a viewing recommendation, the story is confusing and rather bland, with not much point or purpose, apart from a well warn image of drug-culture that can’t hold a hat to the likes of Trainspotting or Drugstore Cowboy.   The ending is mystifying too.  Acting wise all do a fine job with the material with Keanu and Winona especially standing out, but it’s the visuals here that pack the greatest punch, and some of the imagery and ideas are amazing – but sadly the story they surround isn’t.

verdict:  2 /5

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