Day Fifteen: A Scanner Darkly (March of the Movies 2023)

I had a very strange reaction to this film. Upon returning home from work, I turned on the available streaming service immediately and watched it with few interruptions. During the viewing, I had an incredible drowsiness again affect me, similarly with yesterday’s film. Unlike yesterday, I indulged that desire to sleep, so I did just after finishing. I woke up roughly an hour and a half later with a horrible funk depressing my entire being.

Oddly enough, I now feel somewhat empathetic of the main character of A Scanner Darkly. A prickling sensation that something is amiss, that life is curving inward against your will. No one truly understands you, not even yourself; everyone wishes to gain the advantage for themselves. Basically, I feel like shit… for a couple reasons.

Copy-Paste Synopsis

“An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.”


Actual (Short) Review

Reason numero uno as to why I feel like shit is that, despite watching this, I didn’t register it well.

Scenes flew by with a lot of words. Flowing into my ear canals with rotoscoped animation flashing before my eyes. From early on, much of the gloomy, almost numbing attempts at a dystopian near-future kind of glazed over my attention span. Characters spoke to each other in intricate, occasionally pseudo-intellectual fashion that had me blinking in and out of consciousness.

This is something that I desperately need to re-watch at some point. Hours after I woke up from my nap, I thought back to various scenes throughout and realized, “Oh, I know why that scene mattered now.” In the moment, it was too densely packaged for me to properly analyze, perhaps because of my not-fully-conscious self. Perhaps I will need to save watching films for later in the day.

Cool guy. Would trust with my life.

Some things did stand out while I was watching, though, even in a somewhat distorted state of mind. Robert Downey, Jr. is a great actor. His character, glistening in a shadily enigmatic light of camaraderie, was so amusing to watch. How he spins everything to weasel his way out of blame, while also attempting to exemplify his own ego, plays into the chaos of his own obnoxious self-righteousness. Who better than Downey, Jr. to play a character like that?

Woody Harrelson was also fun. A dopey dude who’s just lazing through life. His presence in the story doesn’t amount to much, but his chemistry with Downey’s character was refreshing.

Reeves and Ryder… eh. Didn’t get a whole lot from them. For me, Downey is the star here, with the kind of charisma you would generally expect a lead to have. Though the circumstances of the plot necessitate that someone more with Reeves’s more stoic, existentialist disposition. He does fine enough with that angle, only it’s strange—I can’t take Reeves seriously as an actor most times.

Me while watching this.

Something else I didn’t know going into this is that it’s adapted from a Philip K. Dick novel. Looking back, it seems rather obvious. But again, “looking back”—while viewing, it seemed sort of distilled in a sense of indieness. Wasn’t really sure what to make of it. A re-watch should do me well.


I don’t really know what to rate this, so I’ll go with a vague gut feeling. I think I enjoyed it? However, the dread of a lingering suspicion that I had a lot of deeply laden content fly over my head is pressing. Maybe it’s good? I liked (most) of the acting. The animation is fun. Whatever.

Final Score: 6/10(?)

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

If reading this compelled you to give me a dollar, feel free to tip me on Ko-fi.

Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.

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