Hey noni noni

Film Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly is ultimately a disappointing experience because, despite someincandescently beautiful animation, interest wanes through a middle section in which scenes trip on aimlessly for far too long and the audience is left to wonder exactly in which direction the story is heading. The film begins well with the introduction of Bob Arctor, an undercover detective working within a drug house who uses a suit that shuffles his outward appearance to shield his identity from the department. The drug of choice is Substance D, whose ultimate effect is to dislodge the connection between the left and right sides of the brain. Arctor's life is complicated when he's advised to investigate himself.

It's in the introduction of secondary characters, particularly Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson) and James Barris (Robert Downey Jr.) James Barris, that the film falters because often they become forgrounded at the expense of progress in Arctor's story which means that if you become too annoyed by their insessent rambling and think that actually no, they're not amusing and actually a bit annoying, no matter how well they're animated, you won't enjoy this experience as much as you could. Eventually the reasons for this forgrounding are explained, but by then you're too busy wondering why you've wasted so much time watching Harrelson's wierd blonde wave bobbing around instead of more of Winona Ryder, who is the film's main asset, in her best role in years.

The visuals have a much sleeker quality than the director's earlier film to use the technique, Waking Life. There characters sometimes disappeared into abstraction, whereas here faces will sometimes drift into photo realism, creating the annoyanceof giving the mind and eye time to adjust which means that after a while the visuals stop being so exciting, an obvious tactic which should be papering over the longuers, but simply don't. Only towards the end, as the truth of Arctor's predicament regains agency and the effects of his connection to Substance D reveal themselves does the film snap back into place and become exciting again. Shame.

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