Robert Downey Jr’s character portrayal showed his true acting prowess in ‘A Scanner Darkly’
Linklater has given Hollywood a completely different genre. A genre where the characters are not, in any way, dependent on the storyline or plot – they feed, survive and thrive on screenplay and dialogue. He, for me, is one of the most undervalued directors in Hollywood. And his films, despite a collective fan following and applaud they get, still remain at the periphery of what we call ‘mainstream cinema’.
Like all the other films that Linklater has directed over the years, A Scanner Darkly is also made by the sheer power of writing. For this one, the writing of the best sci-fi novel writer there is, the great Philip K. Dick.
For people who do not know who Philip Dick is, he is the same writer who gave us Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Total Recall. Scanner may not be his best work, but it sure is up there with the rest of the movies that got adapted from his novels.
Even after a decade, A Scanner Darkly is still relevant
A Scanner Darkly released more than a decade ago, but this review still makes perfect sense. The condition of the youth and how heavily drug is being used in the world makes every dialogue and scene of the movie relevant.
Two roommates who are not shy of giving you a piece of their mind [when has Robert Downy Jr. ever shied away from playing this character] are almost always high on truckload of narcotics. A government that is intruding with all its might in the lives of the people on the pretext of ‘war on drugs’ – a theme that still gives enough leverage to the government to put suburban houses under heavy surveillance.
Led by a tremendously talented yet clumsy cast of Robert Downy Jr, Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder, A Scanner Darkly is not for everyone. The movie is intellectually complicated, emotionally dispersed, and at times, abstract with thin, weak knots that keep scenes seamlessly integrated.
The abstract structure of film makes total sense because of the heavy usage of drugs in the movie. Linklater couldn’t afford to let the viewer in on the story so he let us evolve our viewing experience along with the core characters. The more the characters get kicked in the gut by the heavy drug usage, the more things get complicated and as we are fused together in one abstract blend, ‘the truth’ becomes layered.
Richard Linklater, Director of ‘Before’ Triology and Boyhood, is the driving force behind this trippy masterpiece.
Movies are not theories. They don’t come out of a textbook and they shouldn’t be treated like a lecture, either. You should work for ‘the truth’. You should open up those ear drums and eye lids that have been shut by this-is-this and that-is-that cinema for years.
A Scanner Darkly has flaws, yes, but the casting and the screenplay of the movie are nothing short of genius. Let me say this again, A Scanner Darkly could be the most undervalued movie you haven’t watched yet.
The work that Linklater put in the movie went unrecognized. To put things into perspective, the way the film is made, and the animation that is used in the movie takes more than 500 hours on a computer to muster just a single minute of the total runtime of the film.