A Scanner Darkly
In A Scanner Darkly, a patch of flowers, a swirling glass of Merlot and Keanu Reeves’ shoe all become captivating. The film’s shots draw the eye to background objects. If the movie were your typical conspiracy thriller/drug addiction saga, this would be surprising. But A Scanner Darkly is the latest offering from director Richard Linklater and, like Waking Life, its filmed footage has been traced over by a crew of animators. This blending of animation and live-action gives Reeves’s shoes new life. Linklater adapted the screenplay from a novel by Philip K. Dick. It’s set seven years from the present, in a world where governmental surveillance and addiction to a drug called Substance D are commonplace. Reeves plays Fred, a double agent living in a house full of addicts who has become one himself. In this film of ever-shifting identities and truths, Reeves’s trademark blankness is an asset. A Scanner Darkly is mostly composed of sleight-of-hand and plot twists—but the twists are interesting, not annoying, and the ending makes sense. Unsurprisingly, a movie about paranoia and nebulous identity doesn’t have many sympathetic characters. It’s great the first time, and the Merlot holds up, but it’s hard to imagine viewers spending much time with these double-crossers once their secrets have been revealed.