Richard Linklater belongs to that small group of young American filmmakers who are building a reputation as an auteur with a unique vision which include the likes of P.T. Anderson, M. Night Shyamalan and David Gordon Green just to name a few. He has a several “Hollywood productions” under his belt and can’t be held fully responsible for the abysmal Bad News Bears since it was a job he more than likely took to pay the bills (or at least that’s the theory I am sticking to) but has also created two masterpieces with Before Sunrise/Before Sunset which in my opinion stand as two of the most beautiful romances in cinematic history.
His latest project is a daring experiment; implementing a more finely tuned aesthetic of the rotoscoping technique which he first used in the philosophical/mind trip Waking Life (2001). Here he tackles the adaptation of a Philip K. Dick science fiction short story about a near future America being plagued by drug addiction or more specifically, Substance D, a lethal and highly addictive drug that is tearing the country apart. The film carries a significant social relevance pertaining to the major drug epidemic which is a major problem in present-day America.
Believe it or not, Keanu Reeves actually delivers a solid performance as a narc who gets assigned to monitor the day-to-day lives of a group of friends who are under the suspicion of being involved in the usage/distribution of the dangerous drug. The trademark Linklater dialogue is present and this time around he has bigger name actors to work with including Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and the awesome Robert Downy Jr. who seems to be popping up in a lot of great films recently What follows, I dare not reveal except to note that the film cleverly touches upon the ideas of paranoia, identity, privacy, and conspiracies in the form of a hallucinatory puzzle. The ending is a total shocker and it is in these closing moments where the intricacies of the story are fully realized. There is a whole lot more going on beneath those strikingly lucid visuals.