A Scanner Darkly
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey, Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder,
Drugs and paranoia are some of the favourite themes of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner and Total Recall), and this adaptation of his 1977 novel offers plenty of both. In the drug-crazed Orwellian future an undercover detective falls deeper and deeper into paranoia. Nobody knows his true identity, least of all himself, it seems. Is he really investigating himself or is he suffering from the effects of Substance D? Dick’s dark and ultimately clever metaphysical story should make for a captivating drama, but the dreary world and the distant characters turn this into a lifeless affair. Richard Linklater has animated over each frame, like he did in Waking Life. In theory, the unreal quality of the image ties in with the story’s distorted reality. In practice, however, I found myself constantly distracted by some trivial detail in the animation work at the expense of the narrative. And, oh boy, is it easy to get distracted when the film is so thuddingly dull.