A Scanner Darkly

Rated NR

Imagine sitting in a room with three really stoned guys who are also meth addicts. Now imagine recording their dialogue as they get progressively more stoned and more paranoid. OK, should you: A. burn the tape that has the dialogue on it, because it somehow manages the nearly impossible task of being simultaneously tremendously annoying and unbearably boring, or B. use it as the script for a film? If you chose B, then you’re Richard Linklater, and you’ve just made A Scanner Darkly. To be fair, only about an hour of it is a ceaselessly dull series of talking-head shots of people spouting the kind of stuff that only sounds deep if you’re the stoned dickwad saying it. The rest of the film is an interesting set of ideas about conspiracies nested inside of conspiracies, and the difficulty of finding a true identity once you begin to pretend to be what you are. If you think you can stomach some awful, but interestingly rotoscoped performances by Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson and Keanu Reeves (strangely, Keanu doesn’t give anywhere near the worst performance in this film!), and are willing to wade through the boredom and irritation of the stoner sections, there’s a pretty good ending here. Or, alternately, you could just wait until it comes out and DVD and then fast-forward through any of the scenes that feature Robert Downey Jr. Trust me. It’s your best bet.

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