A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)

What's it about? In the near future, the brain-damaging Substance D has become the most dangerous drug on the black market. Bob Arctor aka 'Fred' (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover narcotics agent who has befriended several drug addicts (Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr and Winona Ryder) in order to investigate the source of the supply. Unfortunately, his own use of the drug has resulted in a developing split personality and he is soon spying on his own activities without being aware of it.

Is it any good? A brave and satisfying attempt to bring Philip K. Dick's tricky novel to the screen, which remains pleasingly faithful to the source material and effectively deals with Dick's trademark themes of surveillance, drugs and paranoia. What really impresses is the roto-scoping animation, which perfectly suits to the material by imparting a feeling of disorientation and un-reality upon the viewer that reflects that experienced by the characters. Plus it's difficult to imagine any other approach resulting in a more impressive rendering of Dick's superb 'scramble-suit' concept (a shape-shifting disguise for undercover agents) onscreen. An unusual, bleakly funny and ultimately quite sad film that will probably addle your brain for a few days.

Anything else I should know? Roto-scoping is a technique in animation where live-action performances are subsequently drawn over frame-by-frame. Remember that A-ha video for Take on Me? This is like a hi-tech version of that, but with less teen angst and better hairstyles. Yes, even Woody Harrleson's.

What does the Fonz think? Bob and Fred's Excellent Adventure

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