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Through A Scanner Darkly

Went to see Through A Scanner Darkly this weekend. It's OK but nothing really to shout about. The main character is a druggie who's also an undercover agent, and in a twist of bureaucracy he ends up being asked to monitor himself; while at the same time he gets less and less able to cope with his life.

The two sides of the story - the druggy banter and messing around at home, and the surreal and faceless work at the agency - do sit together well, especially since they both deterioriate (for the main character) into the same kind of paranoia and confusion.

The strange rendering of the film (it's been filmed for real and then transformed to look like a graphic novel) works in some ways but in more important ways spoils things. It adds to the specific mood somewhat, and it helps integrate the occasional special effects without them looking silly, but it can be very very distracting. If a character is standing still then the colour blocks for their hair or face often wave around like wind blowing through a field of wheat. That doesn't contribute to the atmosphere, it just means I occasionally wasn't paying attention to what the words. Plus, the filmmakers very occasionally jump off into more blatantly comic-book effects, such as a thought-bubble appearing over someone's head, and for me this added to the inconsistent feel. Most of the time the film is very real-feeling, despite the rendering.

Despite all that it's an interesting film with some good twists and turns, and some poignant moments (the moment when he laments that his house should have been for a family; that's what it was designed for).

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