In a totalitarian society in a near future, the undercover detective Bob Archor is working with a small time group of drug users trying to reach the big distributors of a brain-damaging drug called Substance D. His assignment is promoted by the recovery center New Path Corporation, and when Bob begins to lose his own identity and have schizophrenic behavior, he is submitted to tests to check his mental conditions. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Robert Downey, Jr. wrote most of his lines down on post-it notes and scattered them around the set so he could read off them while filming a scene. The rotoscoping team simply animated over the notes to remove them from the film during post-production. See more »
(at around 35 mins) During the conversation in the tow truck between Barris and Arctor, visible landmarks switch between Irvine, CA (on the Tustin border) when the camera is on Barris, and Orange, CA (on the border of Anaheim) when the camera is on Arctor. In addition, the same exterior shots from Interstate 5 of the Irvine Technology Center business park are passed several times in the same scene. See more »
[on the phone]
I looked them up. They're aphids. They're in my hair, on my skin, in my lungs. And the pain, Barris, it's unreasonable. They're all over the place. Oh, they've completely gotten Millie too.
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The "Phil" mentioned in the "in memoriam" list as having permanent pancreatic damage is Philip K. Dick himself. See more »
I've never written a review on this site before, but since I've just been at the first screening of this movie at Brandeis, I feel like writing a few comments. First of all, visually this movie is incredible. The roto-scoping is a vast improvement over Waking Life (and that's on a crappy screen with the film only 95% completed.) Despite the overall dark nature of the film, the dialogue is at times hilarious, and at the screening the audience erupted into laughter several times. Now, on to the story itself. I never read the Phillip K. Dick novel, but from what I could tell, the movie stays faithful. This is not a popcorn thriller; like I said, it is very dark. As the producer Erwin Stoff said after the showing, the movie reflects the bad experiences Dick had with drugs during his life. Apparently the producers bought the rights to the book from Dick's daughters at a reduced rate because they promised to be faithful to his vision, and I could definitely see the effort that was put in in order to accomplish that. Overall, I enjoyed this movie very much. Admittedly, it was hard to follow at times. But, as with the other Linklater films that I have seen, A Scanner Darkly is worth seeing for the interesting dialogue, esoteric characters (especially Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson, who provide many of the films laughs), and stunning visuals. It is not a plot-driven movie at all; the story as described in the IMDb summary, which is more or less accurate, is just a framework from which to express Dick's stark and angry vision of the ravages of drugs on society. Those seeking visceral excitement will be disappointed, but those looking for an intelligent, bleakly funny, dream-like, thought provoking experience that is incredibly grim yet not entirely hopeless, will be rewarded. A Scanner Darkly is definitely not for everybody, because its pacing and animation style are not mainstream(the same is true of its release schedule: only 4 theaters on July 7, 8 the next week, and so on). However, for fans of Linklater and/or Dick, this is no doubt a must see, and you should mark July 7th on your calendar.
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