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A Scanner Darkly

Once again employing the rotoscoping process that he used in 2001’s Waking Life (basically, filming in live-action and then tracing over the images), writer-director Richard Linklater this time unleashes the technique on Philip K. Dick’s 1977 novel -- a match made in hallucinatory heaven. Seven years from now, 20 percent of the population will be comprised of junkies, and the US government, with the aid of an organization whose motives might not be squeaky-clean, is trying its best to break the nation of its habit. It sends an agent known only as Fred (Keanu Reeves) into the field to track down the suppliers of a deadly drug called Substance D. Posing as a slacker named Bob Arctor, he forges relationships with several dopers (Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson and Rory Cochrane), but as his own use of Substance D continues to fry his brain, he finds it increasingly difficult to ascertain what’s real and what’s imagined. Even with its animated overlay, A Scanner Darkly is far more restrained in its storytelling methods than other notable “drug flicks” (Requiem for a Dream, Naked Lunch), though the uniqueness of its visual style (that “scramble suit” is a wow!) nevertheless insures that there’s always something eye-catching on view.  ƒç

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