Trippy, faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1977 novel of the same name forecasts a blurry, drug-fueled world of paranoia in which the government not only listens to phone calls but watches its denizens through ambiguous undercover police whose identities are secret even to their bosses. Fred (Reeves) is one such agent, ordered to spy on his pill-popping friends (Downey Jr., Harrelson, Cochrane, and Ryder) and the owner of the house where they drop in to check out, who happens to be another incarnation of himself. Confusing? That's the point. Director Linklater utilizes a technique known as "interpolated rotoscoping," essentially digitally adding a layer of animation over footage of live actors, which effectively enhances the altered-states feel.
At times the ethereal quality of the animation was transporting, but at other times it was just dizzying.
An animated film about secret agents that wear animated clothes to remain anonymous to each other. Layers of appearance.
But at times, we were able to get under the mask to witness confused expressions. The viewer can see real faces at times, but the expressions and nuances of facial movements were buried in the clay-like, smearing effect of the animation. Good ideas are bandied about here. A face can communicate a lot, but it is still something that both hides and reveals what lies underneath it.
I liked the shimmering quality of the scene on the freeway. The blocks of shadow and flashes of light were often exhilarating.