The critical response to this film has been lukewarm, at best, and I feel like I have to take a stand. Richard Linklater is not a faultless human being. He makes mistakes, or rather he made a remake of a film that had no reason to exist in the first place, and to be perfectly honest, I never saw his Bad News Bears remake, but I don't really feel like there was any compelling reason to see it beyond having my worst fears about humanity confirmed.
However, A Scanner Darkly really is great. I was dubious of his use of rotoscope, a technique I believe was used marvelously in Waking Life, a film I cannot get enough of, but seemed inappropriate for a film that takes place in the real world. That was my first mistake.
A Scanner Darkly details the lives of drug addicts and what better way to show unbelievable halucinations than with animation techniques? Say, the film took place in the real world, the opening sequence, where a man believes he is covered in insects, showers, sprays himself with bug spray, and then repeats the whole process with his dog, would have been absolutely horrifying, but because of the animation, which serves to subtly remove us from the action, the sequence is really quite funny. I admit I didn't look very hard, but none of the reviews I glanced at said anything about how funny this film is. Well, it is.
I also have a thing about Keanu Reeves, that is: I really have trouble seeing movies with him in it. Not this movie.
Yeah, so, check it out.