Inspired by the novel written by Philip K. Dick – and directed by Richard Linklater – the movie is crudely metamorphosing the interior battle (which can be considered almost a form of struggle) with the usage of drugs into a fable of lost conscience and temperament.
Substance D – standing for Death – has taken control over the United States.
A battle to stop the spreading of this dangerous substance involved risking the lives of law officers – who are presented with the usage of D in order to capture those who commercialize it. Keanu Reeves – as Bob Arctor – is an undercover detective who becomes addicted to substance D and whose entire life turns upside down as he slowly slides into a state of unreality – losing control over his identity and his actions.
Degradation of a human being – the real definition of the usage of drugs – is pushed upfront in order to capture the genetic habits of the addicted. We see disinterest, disrespect, crimes, stupidity all filmed in such a way that recreates real moments of deformed existence.
Structured like a poem – with glowing parts and also dark ones – the film – animated using a technique interpolated rotoscoping – is presented as a lesson full of messages.
At first it might see as a film that deals with the clicheic theme of drug-usage but bit by bit – it becomes a tale of desperation and inaction towards things of daily occurrence.