“A Scanner Darkly” Multiple Layers of Philosophical Stuff

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Animation and Adaptation
Running Time:
1 hr. 40 min.
Release Date:
July 7th, 2006 (limited)
MPAA Rating:
R for drug and sexual content, language and a brief violent image.
Distributors: Warner Independent Pictures

Directed by: Richard Linklater

JJ Rating: A-

A drug that is called Substance D has the ability to cause split personalities. Fred (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover cop who is hooked and he is looking for a notorious drug dealer that happens to be…well come on duh—him! He’s looking for himself because you know the split personality thing. Good you can get that. Watch it and see if you can get any more than that while viewing this film. That’ll be a talent. A Scanner Darkly.

I profess to be a quick witted person and someone that can just catch on to things that are going on in movies that are supposed to be a SURPRISE. However, in this movie I have to question whether or not I was actually following along or was just enjoying the odd conversations littered with interesting viewpoints that were slightly thought provoking. I would like to think that I caught on and understood what was going on from the beginning to the end, but then again I could be in the dark.

Instead of going on and on about how philosophically grand it was and how I a pseudo-intellectual could follow along I’m going to go on and on about the acting instead. I was amazed at the acting that was in this film because there was no standout but there was no one that just fell by the wayside. Keanu Reeves is always pegged as someone that has this mono like acting where one would think he should be stereo but he just settles for being mono. He doesn’t want to give that surround sound performance. I’m not saying that’s what this was but it was more character than he’s given in any other movie. He does have that whoa facial expression but at least he can use it in such a way that it can be more than just whoa and be more like whoa that’s harsh or whoa that’s just shockingly weird. He did do that weird one during a scene where he noticed his other self. It was interesting.

Winona Ryder is hot in this film. She comes off great in this artistic cartoon looking thing they got going on here. Her acting was as it should be as the drug dealer’s girlfriend. She did it with class and character correct candor. Robert Downey Jr. was the off the rocker talker. He had these thoughts he just had to share with people, but he shared them through his cracked translation that sort of lost something from the brain to the mouth. But sometimes the whole thought makes it through and you go, whoa that’s profound. Woody Harrelson was the low IQ I’m going to punch you in the face character. If he could not be right he was going to beat the one that professed he was wrong until he somehow became right. Great combination with someone that is mostly right, to an extent. Then there’s Rory Cochrane who was the character that saw the ‘alien’ and was sure of it. He was crazed and crazed enough that those that were taking the same drug were making fun of him, even though they could eventually end up just like him.

It was really story driven. I thought it was fascinating idea, especially with the way it was filmed in the cartoon fashion. It gave it that weird drug like feel without having to do some otherworldly effects. I enjoyed the look and the script even if it was hard to follow. From what I gather it was an incredible view on an old idea.

If you are not up for wordy thoughts or philosophical talk then A Scanner Darkly is not for you and you should avoid renting it or viewing it through someone else’s “OMG you have to see it” spill. I am going to pass on adding this to my collection because it’s not one I could see over and over again without forming some sort of headache because of the massive amount of talking that goes on. But I thought that A Scanner Darkly was multiple layers of philosophical stuff and could make for good conversation if you were on some sort of stuff as well.

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